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Contributed by Arizona State Museum

This exhibit of twenty-seven Forman Hanna photographs from the Arizona State Museum's collection showcases the tradition of pictorial photography as practiced in the early twentieth century by photographers in the American West. Native Americans, cowboys and scenic landscapes were some of Forman Hanna's favorite subjects.

Hanna came to Arizona in 1904 and through a friend found a position as a pharmacist in Globe, Arizona. Globe's proximity to the native people and landscapes that he wanted to photograph kept him there for the remainder of his life, although he traveled widely in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Texas.

Hanna's photographs of Apache, Navajo, Hopi and Acoma Indians, as presented here, are set in their villages and surroundings and document their ways of life and the native architecture of the early to mid 1900's. Many of his photographs of native peoples were candid shots where he sought to capture aspects of quotidian Native American life. This demonstrates his desire to preserve the way of life of these Native peoples as well as how interesting he found their lifestyles.

Hanna also documented the cowboys' lifestyle as he feared it would soon disappear altogether. Cattle drives, horsemanship and even the picturesque attire of the cowboys were aspects of the cowboy of the early 20th century that Hanna strived to preserve through his photographs.

Hanna found the landscape of the Southwest fascinating. Unique rock formations made by wind and water erosion, canyon walls and desert vegetation were transformed into people and man-made objects though Hanna's lens. For Hanna, photography was a means of sharing the wonders of the people and landscape around him. He wanted those who viewed his photographs to share in the pleasure he felt when he took them.

At one stage in his life Hanna photographed nudes in a small canyon near Globe, AZ. His figures were local girls and women ranging in age from 5 to 25 years old. Seldom did the girls Hanna asked to pose refuse. He was surprised by how professional they were as models, holding any pose he requested for extended periods of time.

Hanna's photographs are in numerous museum collections in the US including the Brooklyn Museum, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, the Los Angeles Museum and the Smithsonian Institution. Photographs at the Arizona State Museum were generously gifted by the late Mrs. Josephine Hanna.

Copyright and publication rights for all photographs are retained by the Arizona Board of Regents. For reproduction and/or permission rights, contact (520) 621-2445.

References:

  • Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society. "The Corner Stone: Photographs highlighted at the Arizona State Museum Open House". Glyphs. 54.4 (Oct. 2003): 5. Print.
  • "Death Takes Foreman Hanna, Long-Time Globe Businessman". Arizona Record. (Apr. 27, 1950). Print.
  • Hanna, Forman. "This is the Photographic Me". Camera Craft. 38.11 (Nov. 1931): 515-520. Print.
  • "Museum of Northern Arizona To Exhibit Hanna Pictures". Arizona Republic. (Apr. 4, 1952). Print.
  • University of Arizona Centennial Commission. Forman Hanna: Pictorial Photographer of the Southwest. Tucson, University of Arizona, 1985. Print.
 
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