As for Disfarmer, his photographic style may have been plainspoken, in the vein of Madani, but he was nonetheless a true eccentric. Born Mike Meyer in 1884, he changed his name in middle age to register his contempt for the profession of farming (‘Meyer’ means dairy farmer in German) and to signal his critical distance from the citizens of the Arkansas mountain town where he worked. He kept himself aloof, dressing like a dandy and acting like a cipher. He claimed to have been deposited at his parents’ doorstep by a tornado. He built his first studio in the 1930s, after a real tornado destroyed his home and devoted the rest of his life to perfecting the portrait. One of his assistants said that no one could understand the workings of his mind, not even if they had a million years to think it over.
- Jacob Mikanowski