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.