W. Eugene Smith Walk To Paradise Garden
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1946 Print Date 1979
Dimensions 19-7/8 x 15-7/8 in. (505 x 403 mm)
Photo Country United States (USA)
Photographer Country United States (USA)
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
Signed by Patrick Smith and Juanita Smith, the photographer's children and subjects in the photograph. The poster was created for an exhibit of W. Eugene Smith's (1918 - 1978) photographs from the family that was held at Hudson Hall Gallery, Dutchess Community College, Poughkeepsie, New York, from November 5th through 30th, 1979. It is inscribed to "John and Midge - Thank you for shouldering a difficult responsibility" referring to John G. Morris and his wife Midge. Morris, a noted photo editor and writer, was the executor of Smith's estate.
This iconic image was a life changing photograph for Smith recovering from mental and physical war wounds. Among other things it symbolized hope - a passage from darkness into the light. Smith said, "While I followed my children into the undergrowth and the group of taller trees – how they were delighted at every little discovery! – and observed them, I suddenly realized that at this moment, in spite of everything, in spite of all the wars and all I had gone through that day, I wanted to sing a sonnet to life and to the courage to go on living it…Pat saw something in the clearing, he grasped Juanita by the hand and they hurried forward. I dropped a little farther behind the engrossed children, then stopped. Painfully I struggled — almost into panic — with the mechanical iniquities of the camera….
I tried to, and ignore the sudden violence of pain that real effort shot again and again through my hand, up my hand, and into my spine … swallowing, sucking, gagging, trying to pull the ugly tasting serum inside, into my mouth and throat, and away from dripping down on the camera…I knew the photograph, though not perfect, and however unimportant to the world, had been held…. I was aware that mentally, spiritually, even physically, I had taken a first good stride away from those past two wasted and stifled years."
In 1955, a heavily indebted Smith submitted the photograph to Edward Steichen's, Family of Man exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art where it became the closing image of the 300 included in the show.
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