Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Light # 3 (Light on Water)

(Normal, Illinois, 1925 - 1972, Lexington, Kentucky)


Gelatin silver print

7 9/16 x 7 1/2 in. (19.3 x 19.1 cm)

Collection of the Akron Art Museum

Purchased with funds from Anne Alexander and the Museum Acquisition Fund


More Information

Every year from 1957 until his death in 1972, Meatyard made a group of photographs of direct sunlight reflected on the surface of a pond or river. Technically, these works are fairly straightforward. Meatyard hand-held the camera, often pointing it straight down at the water, through exposures of long duration. He sometimes moved it rhythmically along the path of the moving water with the shutter open or took multiple exposures. Intellectually and emotionally, they are complex. The sense of gesture and the use of abstraction to express emotion relate directly to abstract expressionist painting. The visual rhythms in these photographs, as well as the incorporation of intuition and chance occurrence in their making, can be likened to the rhythms and improvisation in the early twentieth-century jazz Meatyard greatly enjoyed. Light, the subject matter in this series, served Meatyard not just as an avenue for exploring abstraction, but also as a way to represent spiritual energy - the light within.

Gelatin Silver
Reflected light