A Leap of Faith
Exhibition: 6 May – 18 Aug 2023
Sat 6 May 14:00 - 17:00
Robert Klein Gallery
38 Newbury Street
MA 02116 Boston
Wed-Thur 12-6pm and b.a.
Elegant, charming, and stunningly beautiful, Rodney Smith’s fashion photography is a delightful revelation.
Mystery and manners, romance and fun—the sophisticated compositions and stylish characters in the extraordinary pictures of fashion photographer Rodney Smith (1947–2016) exist in a timeless world of his imagination. Born in New York City, Smith started out as a photo-essayist, turned to portrait photography, and found his niche, and greatest success, in fashion photography. Inspired by W. Eugene Smith, taught by Walker Evans, and devoted to the techniques of Ansel Adams, Smith was driven by the dual ideals of technical mastery and pure beauty.
Best known for his exceptional fashion photographs, Rodney Smith’s life in photography brought him full circle—away from everything that he knew, and then back to the place he so desperately tried to leave behind. Over the course of a successful career that lasted more than 45 years, Smith developed a unique photographic vision, one that is beautiful, ordered, and inhabited by well-dressed ladies and gentlemen. In each of his carefully crafted compositions, Smith banishes the chaos of modern life for another that is grounded in a romantic view of the past. Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, he asks us to follow him 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. For Smith, who, like many gifted creatives, suffered from bouts of depression and anxiety, photography was a means of staying engaged with the world around him. It was also a tool for spiritual exploration and self-understanding. “I put my life on the line for photography and it returned the effort with abundance,” Smith wrote in 2014, “Its gift back to me was a me devoid of most of my neuroses. One who is clear sharp and energetic.”
-Paul Martineau, Curator of Photography at the J. Paul Getty Museum