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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. The eccentric Mike Disfarmer (né Mike Meyer) worked as the local studio portrait photographer in the small town of Heber Springs, Ark., from 1915 until his death in 1959. During that time, he photographed almost all of the town's residents, becoming, without contact with an artistic community, a master of his medium. His work stands as a lasting record of smalltown life in Middle America from WWI through the '50s and composes a formidable artistic achievement. Using a flash, odd timing or, perhaps, simply his unsettling personality, Disfarmer surprised his subjects into revealing themselves to the camera. Subtly composed family portraits expose complex dependencies and antagonisms among family members. Shots of young soldiers in uniform posing with family or friends offer glimpses into the camaraderie and sadness that must have characterized home life during the two world wars. Until now, Disfarmer's work was known only through seven years of recovered negatives. In 2004, locals and researchers dug through the attics and photo albums of Cleburne County, Ark., to uncover the prints Disfarmer made for his clients. We now have access to pictures spanning his entire career. A host of unusual, charming and disturbing characters populate these photos, all rendered with the stark psychological insight and unlikely brilliance that has won Disfarmer ever-increasing posthumous influence and fame. (Oct.)
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