Smith Rodney

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ABOUT

Rodney Smith was an outstanding photographer. Long known for his iconic black-and-white images that combine portrait and landscape painting, he created magical worlds full of subtle contradictions and surprises. Using only film and light, his un-retouched dreamlike images combine in quality with the skill and physical beauty of his prints.
Rodney Lewis Smith (1947-2016) was born in New York city.

He found his artistic inspiration by visiting the permanent collection of photographs at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in his first year of College. After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1970, he received a master’s degree in theology from Yale University, studying photography under Walker Evans. Smith was looking for meaning in his life, and photography gave him an opportunity to express himself.

Finding his niche, Smith traveled to the South of America, Haiti and Wales, creating soulful portraits of workers and farmers, as well as capturing the splendor of the landscape.
Influenced by the training and technical precision of Ansel Adams, Smith sought to refine his own technique by narrowing down the selection of camera, film, exposure, developer, and paper. He used light to edit and reveal his subjects, displaying them in a wide range of tones, from crisp white highlights to deep velvety shadows. Smith’s signature style appeared, making the world seem clearer and clearer, and order in chaos.

All his life, Smith was interested in printing as an artifact. «For me, print is a creation, a goal, the result of my efforts.» At first, he preferred small gelatin silver prints. In the mid-2000s, with the advent of archival pigment printing on watercolor paper, he finally took up color and large-scale printing with stunning results.

Rodney Smith died in 2016 at the age of 68. His work contains wit and elegance — a powerful combination that no other photographer could have created. The Rodney Smith estate is designed to preserve his archive and share it with audiences around the world who enjoy Smith’s distinctive aesthetic and quirky sense of humor.

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS

2019
Human in Nature: The Art & Wit of Rodney Smith, Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center
Nyack, New York

2018
The Rodney Smith Legacy, Ripley Center at the Smithsonian
Washington, DC

Smithsonian Institution, Studio Tour
New York

2015
Fotográfica Bogotá, FOTOMUSEO, Museo Nacional de la Fotografía de
Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia

2012
Rodney Smith, Milan Image Art Fair
Milan, Italy

Rodney Smith, San Francisco Art Fair
San Fransisco, California

Rodney Smith: The End, Centro Andaluz de Fotografía Exhibition
Almaria, Spain

2011
Rodney Smith: Photographs, Fahey Klein Gallery
Los Angeles, California

The End, Casa De La Imagen
Logrõo, La Rioja, Spain

Rodney Smith: The End, Galeria Spectrum Sotos
Zaragoza, Spain

2010
The End, Museo De Teruel
Teruel, Spain

2009
The End, Sotheby’s Auction House
New York, New York

2006
Brooks Institute of Photography Presents Rodney Smith, Brooks Institute
Santa Barbara, California

2004
Adam’s Dream, Brigham Young University Museum of Art
Provo, Utah

2003
Reverie and Reality, University of Virginia Art Museum
Charlottesville, Virginia

1993
Rodney Smith: Photographs, Port Washington Public Library
Port Washington, New York

1984
In the Land of Light: Photographs of Israel by Rodney Smith, Cathedral Museum, St. John the Divine
New York, New York

1983
In the Land of Light: Photographs by Rodney Smith, Jewish Community Center
New Haven, Connecticut

1981
An Exhibition of Photographs by Rodney Smith 1973–1981, Berkley Center, Yale Divinity School
New Haven, Connecticut