Ralph Eugene Meatyard: A Fourfold Vision

After treasuring the experience of having known Ralph Eugene Meatyard at the turn of the 1970s, and then holding his work in the highest esteem for the whole of my adult life, it is a sobering joy to revisit these spontaneous, imaginative and transcendent photographs again, thirty-six years later. Of course, the world has changed and I have changed too, but the photographs themselves continue to speak to us of a world beyond the one we normally see. We live in a world of appearances and mental habits. The profound and lyric photographs of Ralph Eugene Meatyard open us up to at least a double world, a world where all that is invisible, or only felt, or only dreamed, is as true, or as possible, or as necessary, as the ground which holds us down…In this book, these particular images are at least double exposures, and it would be tempting to stop there, in the twofold world of double vision. But Meatyard’s vision was of Blake’s kind, fourfold, and of immense delight, or belonging at least to the world of “sweet Beulah’s night.” I cannot show you how this is true, but if you have seen it, if you have felt it for yourself, you will know.—from the introduction by Emmet Gowin