WILLIAM EUGENE SMITH (1918-1978)

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WALK TO PARADISE GARDEN, 1946 by WILLIAM EUGENE SMITH (1918-1978) - photograph for sale from Beetles & Huxley

WALK TO PARADISE GARDEN, 1946

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P.O.A

   

William Eugene Smith was born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, USA. He is celebrated for his gritty and realistic depictions of battle scenes in World War II, which established him as one of the most important photojournalists of the twentieth-century.

At the age of seventeen, Smith began photographing for local newspapers. In 1936 he enrolled at Notre Dame University on a scholarship, however one year later he left for New York. In 1943 he worked for "Flying Magazine" as a war correspondent, and then a year later he was contracted to "LIFE" magazine. Following the onset of World War II, Smith was posted to the Pacific where he covered fighting in areas such as Guam, Saipan and Okinawa.

In 1944 Smith returned to the United States after having been injured in Okinawa. He spent the next two years undergoing complex surgeries and rehabilitations to remove the shrapnel that had lodged his skull and left hand. After his recovery, he decided to return to "LIFE" where he went on produce many of his best photo essays, including "Country Doctor," "Spanish Village," and "A Man of Mercy."

His photographs capture the harsh reality of war. Smith developed a deep distrust of journalism as a result of the misrepresentation of his fathers suicide in 1936. This compelled him to photograph the events unfolding before him with an unflinching honesty that had never been seen before; his images of combat represent powerful testaments to the horrors of war.

In 1955 he joined Magnum and began work on a large photographic study of Pittsburgh for which he received Guggenheim Fellowships in 1956 and 1957. Amongst his most famous photographic studies were those of World War II, the clinic of Dr Schweitzer in French Equatorial Africa and the dedication of an American country doctor.

He has worked for various notable publications including "LIFE", "Harpers Bazaar", "Sports Illustrated" and "The New York Times". A year after he moved to Tucson, to teach at the University of Arizona, Smith died of a stroke. In recognition of the outstanding contribution Smith has made to the development of the field of photojournalism, his legacy continues to live on through the W. Eugene Smith Fund. Founded in 1980, the fund aims to promote "humanistic photography", and awards photographers for exceptional accomplishments in the field.

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