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Artwork Details


Ralph Eugene Meatyard
American, 1925–1972




Gelatin silver print

Accession #



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Currently Not on View


An optician by training, Meatyard was mentored by Van Deren Coke, who headed Meatyard’s local Lexington Camera Club, and attended workshops led by Aaron Siskind and Minor White. Meatyard used his knowledge of lenses and vision to produce a number of photographic experiments that feature simple and elegant observations of light, form, and motion. He is also known for his staged photographs of masked and costumed figures.

Untitled belongs to the photographer’s Zen Twig series (the images resemble Zen calligraphy). The photograph’s sharp focus on the small detail of a twig surrounded by an abstract, unfocused ground is typical of the series. After Minor White introduced Meatyard to the subject in the mid-1950s, Zen became an influence in his life and work. He described it as a “philosophy more than a religion and a thing to do more than to talk about” in a letter he wrote to Coke in the early 1960s.


Gift of Lucinda W. Bunnen for the Bunnen Collection