Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Liked this RPPC from the moment I saw it--bearing witness, as it does, to its anonymous subject's shy, valiant effort to live up to his Sunday-best outfit.

Also reminds me of Mike Disfarmer's spare yet stunning studio portraits of local farmers and their families, taken in Heber Springs, Arkansas, in the 1930s and 1940s. Granted, the image here is much more conventional--the eccentric Disfarmer (1884-1959) never used prettified scenic backcloths or tasteful 'props' like the parlor chair here. But in certain truth-telling details--the softness of the cotton shirt, the downward listing ear, the thin boy-arm and surprisingly large hand, thumb firmly hooked in pocket--the image treats its young subject with a Disfarmer-like visual absorption.

Photography-lovers unfamiliar with Disfarmer have new and rigorous pleasures in store. As many have observed, he's the American August Sander.

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