Thomas Merton Series


Roger Lipsey, Stephen Reilly


This series of photographs, by a 20th Century master, of a 20th Century seeker, are especially remarkable, because they combine the formalism and relevance of great art with the intimacy, the playfulness, the casual snapshotty sense of lost time, that arises between dear friends…

Meatyard offers countless ways to see the world… by focusing on the world at hand in a manner that is quiet, meditative and constant.

We cannot look at these photographs without seeing something else: the countdown from January 1967 to Merton’s final departure from Kentucky in Spetember 1968, and his death in Bangkok three months later.

What else was going on during the period of these photographs?

In Merton’s own life it was a time of upheaval and uncertainty, …as reflected in the journal entries that serve as captions to these photographs.

Product Description

This volume is more than the catalog for an exhibit accompanying the 2013 visit of the Dalai Lama to Louisville, Kentucky, and commemorating his affection for Thomas Merton. It is a document of something we have all missed about the final two years of Merton’s life. The starkness and brevity of the passages selected resound in a direct way upon the soul.

Photographing Thomas Merton

Photographs by Ralph Eugene Meatyard

Calligraphies by Thomas Merton

“Would you be willing to try something in a experimental vein? If not just say so and it will be perfectly all right with me and I will understand. What I propose is to see how closely I, or any artists can connect with the utterances of another. If you were to send me words, prose or poetry and number of words doesn’t matter and I don’t necessarily understand the personal or private meaning of them- then try to make a photograph or pigraphs of them? we might also if that works try my abstracted photo first and then your words.”

August 12, 1967 Meatyard to Merton


“I like very much your suggestion of trying something experimental; poems and pictures. Let’s think about that.”

August 15, 1967 Merton to Meatyard