SMITH, W. EUGENE. (1918-1978). Pioneering American photojournalist. SP. (“W. Eugene Smith”). 1p. Postcard. N.p., N.d. A black-and-white MOMA postcard reproduction of his classic 1950 photograph The Thread Maker, Spain, signed in the lower blank margin.
As a photographer for LIFE magazine from 1939-1955, Smith pioneered the modern photo essay. While photographing the World War II Battle of Okinawa, he was wounded by mortar fire. In contrast to his wartime photos, Edward Steichen included Smith’s famous and enchanting 1946 image of his children walking in his garden, entitled The Walk to Paradise Garden, in the landmark 1955 exhibition The Family of Man. Smith’s notable photo essays include Nurse Midwife (1951) and A Man of Mercy (1954), which showed the work of Albert Schweitzer, yet also precipitated his resignation from LIFE over artistic differences. Other notable subjects were the city of Pittsburgh, Manhattan jazz musicians and Japanese victims of Minamata disease, a result of industrial mercury poisoning. The latter story angered Tokyo’s Chisso Company, the company responsible for the poisoning, employees of which attacked Smith, leaving him blind in one eye. Undeterred, Smith published “‘Minamata,’ Words and Photographs by W.E. Smith and A.M. Smith,” in 1975, and was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1974 for “best published photographic reporting from abroad requiring exceptional courage and enterprise.”
The image on our postcard is from his 1950 exploration of rural poverty in General Franco’s Spain and published as A Spanish Village in the April 9, 1951 issue of LIFE. In fine condition and rare in this format.