These two books by small-town commercial photographers have common qualities: each reveals the character of one place during one period; the quality of the photography (and reproductions) in both is breathtakingly fine; and both books hint that there may be other minor players with major talents waiting to be published. The portfolio of Clergeau's photographs is presented as a historical document that shows the life of a French village from before World War I to 1936. Essays accompany chapters that focus on schools, religion, early aviation, wartime life, rural and farm life, festivals, and family occasions. Clergeau's life and development as clockmaker turned local photographer is woven throughout the analysis. The photographs, selected from an archive of more than 10,000 glass negatives, rival in quality Atget's documentary images and suggest the photographic survey of occupations carried out by August Sander. The book of Disfarmer's portrait-studio images is beautiful in its presentation?contact prints are reproduced on all-black pages. It is a new book that adds new images to those familiar from the now long-out-of-print Disfarmer (1976), though the essay from that book is included here. Like Clergeau, Disfarmer continued using glass-plate negatives long after film negatives had become popular. From a selection of 3000 negatives salvaged after Disfarmer's death in 1959, we meet the townsfolk of Heber Springs, Arkansas. Sitters apparently were not coaxed to smile or pose as they were artlessly captured. The portraits are among the most powerful and memorable to be found and suggest, again, the work of August Sander and even Diane Arbus. Both books should be added to photography and photographic history collections.?Kathleen Collins, New York Transit Museum Archives, Brooklyn
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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. Ray Olson
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Book Description Twin Palms Publishers, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: As New. 2nd Edition. Mint as new in DJ with very light shelf wear, second edition of 2,500 copies printed in 2000, as new Size: 4to - over 9¾ - 12" tall. Book. Bookseller Inventory # 000016
Book Description Twin Palms Publishers, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110944092381
Book Description Book Condition: New. New. Bookseller Inventory # S-0944092381
Book Description Twin Palms Publishers, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0944092381
Book Description Twin Palms Publishers, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1996. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. First edition, first printing. Hardcover. Fine cloth, with dust jacket. 212 pp. with 182 sheet-fed gravure plates. 10 x 7-1/4 inches. This first edition was limited to 4000 hardbound copies. New in New dust jacket. From the publisher: "In Heber Springs, Arkansas, a reclusive photographer known simply as Disfarmer created an uncanny record of American rural life in the 1930s and 1940s. Portraits of farmers, soldiers, and families reveal his uniquely American vision of place. Selected as one of the best photography books of 1996 by The New York Times Book Review.". Bookseller Inventory # 100049