W. Eugene Smith

American, b. 1918, d. 1978

William Eugene Smith was born in 1918 in Wichita, Kansas. He took his first photographs at the age of 15 for two local newspapers. In 1936 Smith entered Notre Dame University in Wichita, where a special photographic scholarship was created for him. A year later he left the university and went to New York City, and after studying with Helene Sanders at the New York Institute of Photography, in 1937 he began working for News-Week (later Newsweek). He was fired for refusing to use medium-format cameras and joined the Black Star agency as a freelance.

Smith worked as a war correspondent for Flying magazine (1943-44), and a year later for Life. He followed the island-hopping American offensive against Japan, and suffered severe injuries while simulating battle conditions for Parade, which required him to undergo surgery for the next two years.

Once recuperated, Eugene Smith worked for Life again between 1947 and 1955, before resigning in order to join Magnum as an associate. In 1957 he became a full member of Magnum. Smith was fanatically dedicated to his mission as a photographer. Because of this dedication, he was often regarded by editors as 'troublesome'.

A year after moving to Tucson to teach at the University of Arizona, Smith died of a stroke. His archives are held by the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona. Today, Smith's legacy lives on through the W. Eugene Smith Fund to promote 'humanistic photography', founded in 1980, which awards photographers for exceptional accomplishments in the field.


Education

New York Institute of Photography

Awards

1956      Guggenheim Fellowship

Exhibitions

2001/02  Dream Street - W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh Photographs - Carnegie Museum
              of Art Pittsburgh, USA; ICP, New York, USA; Center for Creative Photography, 
              Tucson, USA
1998/99  W. Eugene Smith - Hôtel de Sully, Paris, France; Fotomuseum Winterthur,
              Switzerland; Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain;
              Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, UK; Pallazzo Magnani, Reggio Emilia,
              Italy
1991       W. Eugene Smith - Centre Georges-Pompidou, Paris, France
1974       Let Truth Be the Prejudice - Jewish Museum, New York, USA;
              American Institute of Architects Centennial Exhibition, National Gallery of Art, 
              Washington, D.C.

Books

2001       Dream Street - W. Eugene Smith's Pittsburgh Photographs, Norton & Co, 
              USA
1999       W. Eugene Smith - Aperture Masters of Photography, Aperture, USA
1998/99  W. Eugene Smith - Du côté de l'ombre, Le Seuil, France; (Il senso dell'ombra)
              Federico Motta, Italy
1998       W. Eugene Smith: Photographs 1934-1975, Harry N. Abrams, USA
1990       W. Eugene Smith, Thames & Hudson, UK
1989       W. Eugene Smith: Shadow & Substance, McGraw-Hill, USA
1986       W. Eugene Smith, Pantheon Books, USA
1985       Let Truth Be the Prejudice, Aperture, USA
1983       I Grandi Fotografi : W. Eugene Smith, Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri, Italy
1983       Photo Poche, Centre National de la Photographie, France
1981       Master of the Photographic Essay: W. Eugene Smith, Aperture, USA
1978       Passenger Ships of the World Past and Present , George H. Dean, USA
1975       Minamata, Alskog/ Holt Rinehart & Winston, USA
1969/73  W. Eugene Smith - His photographs and notes, Aperture Monograph, USA
1963       Japan A Chapter of Image, Hitachi, Japan