Clarence John Laughlin
Prophet Without Honor
A. J. Meek, with a foreword by John H. Lawrence
JANUARY 2007, 208 pages (approx.), 7 x 10 inches, 45 b&w photographs, foreword, chronology, index
Cloth, 1-57806-909-2 (978-1-57806-909-5)

A biography of a New Orleans photographer of worldwide acclaim

     Clarence John Laughlin (1905-1985) of New Orleans is arguably the father of photographic surrealism in America. He was best known for his photographs of old plantation homes and his book, Ghosts Along the Mississippi, but his lifeís work was varied and broad. Laughlin was a mainstream photographer who was published in many national magazines. His contemporaries and associates included photographers Minor White, Wynn Bullock, and Edward Weston, as well as legendary editor Maxwell Perkins.

     Laughlin was, however, often marginalized and ignored due to misunderstandings of his work and his often volatile personality. Equally annoying to many was his devotion to capturing images that depicted, with an evangelical zeal and sometimes disturbing sense of self-righteousness, the evil and poverty that he saw in the world.

     A. J. Meek looks into the controversial life of one of the greatest photographers in American history. Through interviews with Laughlinís colleagues, friends, and family, the author details the tumultuous connection between the struggles of the artistís life, including strained working relationships and failed marriages, and the work that brought him professional fame.

     A.J. Meek is professor emeritus of art at Louisiana State University. His previous books include Gettysburg to Vicksburg: The Five Original Civil War Battlefield Parks, Gardens of Louisiana: Places of Work and Wonder, Exploring Black and White Photography, and Red Pepper Paradise: Avery Island, Louisiana.


"Meek paints a fascinating portrait of the Lake Charles native, who was a boy of 14 when his father died in the great flu epidemic of 1918. With a grieving mother and a crippled sister to support and care for, Laughlin's family life was demanding to say the least; his life would follow a pattern of responsibility and flight. He would marry five times -- twice to the same woman, Elizabeth Heintzen -- and he would not know his three children well during his lifetime.  ... Meek, in this admiring yet clear-eyed biography, makes us see the man behind those melted dreams, appreciate his achievements as well as his shortcomings, in a welcome look at a true New Orleans original."
-- Susan Larson, The Times Picayune
Click here to read the full review.

"The book is by A.J. Meek, professor emeritus of art at LSU. Meek combines biography and criticism with reproductions of some of Laughlinís black and white photographs to explain the artistís complex creations. Early on, Meek says, Laughlin showed his maverick streak.

'He refused to photograph the usual beautiful locations of the French Quarter (Vieux Carre) and make the typical tourist snapshots, focusing instead on the overlooked Quarter architecture.' "
-- Greg Langley, The Advocate
Click here to read the full review.

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