Disfarmer. 1939 – 1946 Heber Springs Portraits

Disfarmer (1884-1959) was a commercial photographer in Heber Springs, Arkansas. He made portraits of his neighbors in the tiny town and the surrounding cotton-farming countryside that are striking in their informality and immediacy. Disfarmer used no scenery or props, he did not coax smiles or particular gestures from his poor, hardworking subjects, and he lit them with direct north light only. What survives of his work is from the World War II era. A great many of these pictures were made to be sent to husbands, fathers, and sons in the army or navy; pictures from late in the period often mark homecomings. The poignancy, easy to read in these images, is, then, probably often real, not an interpolation motivated by sentimentality over the bygone era they record. As collector Julia Scully observes in her afterword (reprinted from a smaller 1976 book of Disfarmer portraits), they are important documentarily, too, for most professional photographers of the time were recording the war effort, not ordinary Americans isolated from war and home fronts alike. This generous selection presents Disfarmer’s portraits on flat black pages, as impressively as they deserve.

Text: Scully Julia. cm 18,5×25; pp. 210; BW ills.; hardcover with dust jacket. Publisher: Twin Palms Publishers, Santa Fe , 1996.

ISBN: 9780944092385| 0944092381

ID: AM-2409

Product Description

Disfarmer (1884-1959) was a commercial photographer in Heber Springs, Arkansas. He made portraits of his neighbors in the tiny town and the surrounding cotton-farming countryside that are striking in their informality and immediacy. Disfarmer used no scenery or props, he did not coax smiles or particular gestures from his poor, hardworking subjects, and he lit them with direct north light only. What survives of his work is from the World War II era. A great many of these pictures were made to be sent to husbands, fathers, and sons in the army or navy; pictures from late in the period often mark homecomings. The poignancy, easy to read in these images, is, then, probably often real, not an interpolation motivated by sentimentality over the bygone era they record. As collector Julia Scully observes in her afterword (reprinted from a smaller 1976 book of Disfarmer portraits), they are important documentarily, too, for most professional photographers of the time were recording the war effort, not ordinary Americans isolated from war and home fronts alike. This generous selection presents Disfarmer’s portraits on flat black pages, as impressively as they deserve.

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