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Arts & Photography

Rating: 3.4 / 5.0 (16 votes)

Released: 2012-09-08

Backwoods Genius (Kindle Single) by Julia Scully


Like countless other small town portrait photographers across America, Mike Disfarmer lived and died anonymously, in a tiny, remote village in the shadow of the Ozarks. After his death, the contents of his studio, including thousands of glass negatives, were sold off for five dollars. For years the fragile negatives sat forgotten and deteriorating in cardboard boxes in an open carport.

How did it happen, then, that the most implausible of events took place? That Disfarmer’s haunting portraits were retrieved from oblivion, that today they sell for upwards of $12,000 each at posh New York art galleries; his photographs proclaimed works of art by prestigious critics and journals and exhibited around the world?

The story of Disfarmer’s rise to fame is a colorful, improbable, and ultimately fascinating one that involves an unlikely assortment of individuals. Would any of this have happened if a young New York photographer hadn’t been so in love with a pretty model that he was willing to give up his career for her; if a preacher’s son from Arkansas hadn’t spent 30 years in the Army Corps of Engineers mapping the U.S. from an airplane; if a magazine editor hadn’t felt a strange and powerful connection to the work? The cast of characters includes these, plus a restless and wealthy young Chicago aristocrat and even a grandson of FDR.

It’s a compelling story which reveals how these diverse people were part of a chain of events whose far-reaching consequences none of them could have foreseen, least of all the strange and reclusive genius of Heber Springs. Until now, the whole story has not been told.
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Book Details

Author: Julia ScullyBinding: Kindle EditionLanguage: English

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