The Rules Were Different … For Smith

Ben Cosgrove looks into one of W. Eugene Smith’s iconic stories for Life magazine on Dr. Albert Schweitzer. And it’s the last graf that has me pondering …

W. Eugene Smith, on the other hand, has largely escaped such censure for one reason, and one reason only: he was W. Eugene Smith, and for better or worse, when it comes to aesthetics — and even, to some extent, when it comes to ethics — genius has always played by, and been judged by, a different set of rules than those that govern the rest of us.

Would Smith’s manipulations be accepted today? Probably – hopefully – not. But, in the context of the 1950s, this was at the edge of acceptability.

Still, I’d hope it was not because of just who he was but what he did.

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