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  • W. Eugene Smith Bio Image
  • W. Eugene Smith

    United States

    Art Brokerage: W. Eugene Smith American Artist: b. 1918-1978. William Eugene Smith (December 30, 1918 – October 15, 1978), was an American photojournalist, renowned for the dedication he devoted to his projects and his uncompromising professional and ethical standards. He began his career by taking pictures for two local newspapers, The Wichita Eagle (morning circulation) and the Beacon (evening circulation). Smith eventually moved to New York City and began working for Newsweek. He became known there for his incessant perfectionism and thorny personality. Smith was fired from Newsweek for refusing to use medium format cameras, and joined Life Magazine in 1939 using a 35mm camera.As a correspondent for Ziff-Davis Publishing, and then again Life Magazine, Smith was often on the front lines in the Pacific theater of World War II. He was with the American forces during their island-hopping offensive against Japan, photographing U.S. Marines and Japanese prisoners of war at Saipan, Guam, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In 1945, while he was photographing battle conditions on Okinawa, Smith was hit by mortar fire. After recovering, he continued at Life, until 1954. Smith continued to work at perfecting the technique of the photo-essay. In 1950, he was sent to the United Kingdom to cover the General Election, in which the Labour Party, under Clement Attlee, was narrowly victorious. Life Magazine had taken an editorial stance against the Labour government. In the end, a limited number of Smith's photographs of working-class Britains were published, including three shots of the South Wales valleys. Upon leaving the magazine, Smith joined the Magnum photo agency in 1955. There he started his project to document the city of Pittsburgh. The project was supposed to take him three weeks, but spanned three years and encompassed tens of thousands of photographic negatives. It was too large to ever be shown, although a series of book-length photo essays were eventually produced. From 1957 to 1965 Smith took photographs and made recordings of jazz musicians playing at a Manhattan loft shared by David X. Young, Dick Cary, and Hall Overton. The Jazz Loft Project, devoted to preserving and cataloging the works of Smith, is directed by Sam Stephenson at the Center for Documentary Studies in cooperation with Center for Creative Photography (CCP) and the Smith estate. Listings wanted.

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