Ralph Eugene Meatyard

(1925 – 1972)

Ralph Eugene Meatyard was born in Normal, Illinois on May 15, 1925. He served in the Navy, studied pre-dentistry at Williams College (1943-44) and philosophy at Illinois Wesleyan University (1950). He began his career as an optician in 1949. The optical firm where he worked, Tinder-Krauss-Tinder, also sold photographic equipment and supplies. There Meatyard purchased his first camera in 1950 in order to photograph his newborn son. Once established in his own practice, Eyeglasses of Kentucky, he hung the walls of the reception area with rotating exhibitions of his own pictures and those of other photographers, including Emmet Gowin. Meatyard exhibited selections from Georgetown Street, a collaborative effort with Van Deren Coke, along with other early work at Roy DeCarava's A Photographer's Place in 1957-8, and had his first solo show in 1959 at Tulane University.
Throughout his career as photographer, he continued working as an optometrist at Eyeglasses of Kentucky, and was known to his friends as a devoted family man who somehow eked out time to photograph on weekends. Meatyard's interest in Eastern thinking was sparked at a workshop in Indiana where Minor White recommended a list of books crucial to a photographer's education which included two volumes on Zen. Photographs by Meatyard are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art in New York; George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film...

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