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"untitled" - Pittsburgh Steel 1955 - W Eugene Smith

I keep name checking W Eugene Smith and yet I keep finding people who know nothing about the man, And thus another of my inspirations series is in hand.

 

Who was W Eugene Smith? Its a complex question - born in Wichita Kansas in 1918, first hooked by photography at 13 and by 21 published in magazine after magazine, a combat photographer who was fearless to the point of what some considered suicidal bravery, wounded in battle, obsessive, impossible to work with, perfectionist, drug addict, master, genius.

 

Yet Smith is much more - it was his exposure to the suffering of war victims in the pacific that moved him to document images in the name of social responsobility, that moved him to generate the most amazing work of his career - its this work, the images from Miyamata of mercury poisoned victims, his steel workers, his obsession with Pittsburgh that turned a 2 week assignment into 3 years work with no end, all of it combines to add up to a driven tortured genius.

 

In the end Smith died penniless at just 58 and left behind over 44'000 pounds of archival material and images - a man who would spend days in the darkroom its his black and white work, obsessively created in the camera or the darkroom that leaves us with the legacy of one of the greatest photographers in the history of the art.

 

You can read more about Smith here : www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/database/smith_w.html

 

And see a selection of images here : masters-of-photography.com/S/smith/smith.html

 

Note that I in no way claim creation, copyright, ownership or control of this image in any way. It was taken from a public domain site where it is presented as a wallpaper image and will be taken down if requested.

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Uploaded on March 26, 2006