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'The Masks Grow to Us' by Clarence John Laughlin

Clarence John Laughlin

Clarence John Laughlin (American, 1905–1985) was a true Southern artist who spent his long career exploring the history and mythology of his native region. Based in New Orleans for much of his life, Laughlin was a polymath who experimented with numerous approaches to making photographs—from documentary to surrealist, straight prints to unique collages—to explore the transformative psychological possibilities of the medium. Known for his use of literary metaphor, he recorded the South’s crumbling mansions and used the aging cemeteries of New Orleans as stages for improvised tableaux vivants, or “living pictures.” The High Museum’s collection of 100 prints by Laughlin is one of the most extensive in the country.