“AN IDEAL OF WHAT CAN BE DONE WITH THE MEDIUM”: MINAMATA, BOLDLY SIGNED BY W. EUGENE SMITH
SMITH, W. Eugene and SMITH, Aileen M. Minamata. New York: Alskog-Sensorium/Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975. Large quarto, original black stiff laminated wrappers. $1500.
First trade edition in wrappers of W. Eugene Smith’s last major photobook, boldly signed by him on the half title, from the library of his longtime partner Margery Lewis Smith, with 150 finely screened black-and-white photogravures documenting the tragedy of Minamata.
Minamata, W. Eugene Smith’s last major photo essay stands as “an ideal of what can be cone with the medium” presenting a moving indictment of environmental pollution (New York Times). As Cornell Capa notes, these “are great photographs that will survive all of us. They have strength of conviction. Smith has done the ultimate in sublimation of self, sublimation of art” (Hughes, 521). In his New York Times review, Paul Theroux wrote that these “superb photographs only emphasize that beauty is the beginning of terror… Minamata is the small history of a village which shares a boundary with every town in the world.” Smith’s haunting picture “of 16-year-old Tomoko Uemura being bathed by her mother is the last great photograph Smith was to make before his death in 1978. In this image, the tragedy of Minamata is recorded and transcended at the same time” (Roth, 232). Trade edition published same month in cloth, in wrappers, and as a “deluxe” edition, no priority established. Printed to commemorate a chief inaugural exhibits at New York’s newly opened International Center of Photography. See Szarkowski, 150. From the library of Margery Lewis Smith, Eugene Smith’s longtime partner and an accomplished photographer in her own right. Owner inscription in an unidentified hand on the half title.
Text and images fine, small abrasion to rear wrapper without affecting text.