“A HEROIC FIGURE IN AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHY”: FIRST EDITION OF W. EUGENE SMITH’S JAPAN, INSCRIBED BY HIM TO HIS SON, IN 1965
SMITH, W. Eugene. Japan—A Chapter of Image. (Tokyo: Toppan, 1963). Large quarto, original blue paper boards. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $4500.
First edition of this photographic essay about Japan’s industrialization, with 144 photographs, inscribed by the great photographer to his son: “To Kevin 1965.”
“A heroic figure in American photography, Smith created photo essays so compelling in their power that it can be said his work changed, as well as documented, history” (McDarrah & McDarrah, 457). From 1961-62, Smith worked for Hitachi Corporation in Japan, ostensibly to record the company’s activities. Instead, he created this photo essay emphasizing the impact of rapid industrialization on Japanese laborers. Smith would revisit this concern in his last great work, Minamata (1975), which detailed mercury poisoning in a southern Japanese fishing village. In the present volume, Smith included for the first time his signature phrase—“Let the truth be the prejudice”—which was chosen as the title of both a famous 1970 retrospective and Jim Hughes’ biography of Smith. “Smith helped transform photojournalism… His examples have remained as the standards by which photo essays are still judged” (Icons of Photography, 122). From the library of Margery Lewis Smith, partner of Eugene Smith and a noted photographer in her own right. She and Eugene Smith had one child together, Kevin, to whom this volume is inscribed.
Light rubbing and wear to foot of spine. A near-fine copy with exceptional presentation and provenance.