Like all great art, Rodney’s had a look that became singular over time, and you recognize it the moment you see it.
Prominent fashion photographer Rodney Smith's (1947-2016)
imaginative and whimsical images from a forty-five-year career
are thoughtfully curated into Rodney Smith: A Leap of Faith
(J. Paul Getty Museum, Hardcover $65.00). This title is the
definitive record of the life's work of this truly original artist and
educator. Available for purchase May 16, 2023.
Born in New York City, Smith started work as a photo essayist,
before turning to portraiture, and eventually finding his niche
and greatest success in fashion photography. He was a regular
contributor to The New York Times, W Magazine, Vanity Fair,
Departures, and New York Magazine, and shot campaigns for
luxury retailers including Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman,
and Ralph Lauren, among others.
Self-Portrait with Leslie, Siena, Italy, 1990 © 2023 Rodney Smith Ltd., courtesy of the Estate of Rodney Smith
Inviting comparison to the surrealist, Rene Magritte, Smith's'
fashion photography has long been hailed as a delightful
revelation. Meticulously-crafted, humorous, paradoxical, romanticized, and fun, Smith created scenes of
enchantment, and surprising, dream-like worlds without retouching, setting him apart from his contemporaries
and beyond. Getty Museum curator Paul Martineau describes Smith, ''...like Lewis Carroll's Alice in
Wonderland, his photographs lead us down the rabbit hole to a fantastical place that is just beyond our reach
but one intended to inspire us to be better versions of ourselves.'''
Wessel Looking Over the Balcony, Paris, France, 2007 © 2023 Rodney Smith Ltd., courtesy of the Estate of Rodney Smith
In Rodney Smith: A Leap of Faith, Martineau weaves through the artist's history in a detailed bio-critical essay,
mapping the artist's creative trajectory—including his introduction to photography, early personal projects,
teaching, commissioned pieces, and career in fashion-providing insight into his personal life and character,
contextualizing his work and creative tendencies within his privileged but lonely upbringing and complex
emotional and psychological makeup.
This lavish volume features nearly two hundred reproductions of Smith's images-many of which have never
been published. Inspired by renowned Life magazine photo-essayist W. Eugene Smith, taught by Walker
Evans, and devoted to the techniques of Ansel Adams, Smith was driven by technical mastery and beauty. The
Center for Creative Photography's chief curator, Rebecca A. Senf contributes an in-depth technical assessment
of Smith's production, his exacting process, and his use of photography as a means of human connection.
Don Jumping Over Hay Roll No. 1, Monkton, Maryland, 1999 © 2023 Rodney Smith Ltd., courtesy of the Estate of Rodney Smith
Skyline, Hudson River, New York, 1995 © 2023 Rodney Smith Ltd., courtesy of the Estate of Rodney Smith
Saori on Seaplane Wing, Dominican Republic, 2010 © 2023 Rodney Smith Ltd., courtesy of the Estate of Rodney Smith
Edythe and Andrew Kissing on Top of Taxis, New York, New York, 2008 © 2023 Rodney Smith Ltd., courtesy of the Estate of Rodney Smith