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W.Eugene Smith: Photography Made Difficult
by Jan Hartman

ISBN: 9780714860404
PUBLISHER: Phaidon Press Ltd


The American photographer Eugene Smith (1918-1978) is celebrated for his style of "inside story" photo-journalism, in which he combines dramatic immediacy with compassionate engagement. In the 1940s Smith was assigned by "Life" to cover the war in the Pacific, and his images from the assault on Japanese resistence in the Saipan Mountains rank with the greatest war photographs. His realization of the "enemy as victim" and the message of universal compassion shaped all Smith's subsequent projects, and his vision here is seen as essentially religious, focusing on revolutionary moments of pain, exhaustion, labour, anxiety and kindness. This video, directed by Gene Lasko, details Smith's achievements in relation to his personal life. It traces his pursuit from the 1950s of an epic approach to photography, from a story of a Colorado rural doctor to documentation of famine in Franco's Spain, his attempt in Pittsburgh to chronicle an entire industrial American city, and after a period of breakdown, his coverage in 1971 of the Minamata mercury pollution incident in Japan, with which he felt his work had come full circle.

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