Spooky, Surreal, Southern: The Work of Clarence John Laughlin, 'Father of American Surrealism'

Jul 9, 2019

"There is no exquisite beauty...without some strangeness in the proportion."

That's a line from Edgar Allan Poe, the king of the dark and eerie, the strange and surreal. It could also describe the appeal of an exhibition currently on view at the High Museum of Art, called "Strange Light: The Photography of Clarence John Laughlin."

Laughlin has been called "Edgar Allan Poe with a camera." He was a Louisiana native and Southern photographer known as the "Father of American Surrealism." A fascinating and irascible character, Laughlin broke boundaries with photographic innovations that linked imagery to the subconscious. 


John Lawrence is director of museum programs for The Historic New Orleans Collection, which holds Laughlin's archives and master prints. He joined On Second Thought to talk about the life, work and vision of the "phantasmagorical" photographer.

Gregory Harris, associate curator of photography for the High Museum of Art, also joined the conversation.

The exhibit will be on view at the High Museum through Nov. 10. 

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