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Becoming Disfarmer (Hardcover)
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Becoming Disfarmer (Hardcover)
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"Becoming Disfarmer" uses a compelling sequence of over 100 images
to tell the story of Mike Disfarmer's vernacular portraiture and
its transformation into art. This monograph features his vintage
prints along with a selection of enlargements made from his
negatives in the 1970s, through which his work first became known.
Disfarmer's postcard-size vintage photographs are reproduced in
full color to accurately convey their varied surfaces, and most of
the examples are shown in the condition in which they were found,
rather than as restored images. This is also the first publication
to reproduce the backs of numerous vintage photographs and to
provide transcriptions of the handwritten notes that appear on the
objects. In addition, the monograph contains high-quality
reproductions of newspaper pages in which Disfarmer's images
appeared, locally produced historical journals that include images
by other photographers who worked at the same time and in the same
region as Disfarmer and album pages like those for which
Disfarmer's photographs were originally made. These fascinating
additions to the scholarship were collected as primary research by
the editor over a three-year period and provide historical context
for Disfarmer's portraits. Complete with three scholarly essays, a
bibliography and exhibition history, this monograph qualifies as
the most comprehensive Disfarmer publication to date.
Mike Disfarmer (1884-1959) was born Michael Meyer in Indiana, and
began working as a photographer in Heber Springs, Arkansas in 1914.
In addition to selling portraits made in his studio, he processed
film, sold postcards and worked for hire. He was considered a
mythical figure in his own lifetime for changing his surname to
Disfarmer in 1939 and claiming to have originated from a tornado.
His portraits--commonly considered as honest depictions of a rural
population made by an eccentric outsider--have been compared with
the work of masters such as August Sander and Irving Penn.
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