Henry Holmes Smith

Early Work

Pair (Blue)
Winner & Loser (Red)
Royal Pair (Green)
Royal Pair (Red)
Royal Pair (Purple)

Henry Holmes Smith (1909, Bloomington, Illinois–1986) was an American photographer and one of the most influential fine art photography teachers of the mid 20th century. He was inspired by the work that had been done at the German Bauhaus and in 1937 was invited to teach photography at the New Bauhaus being founded by Moholy-Nagy in Chicago. After World War II, he spent many years teaching at Indiana University. His students included Jerry Uelsmann, Jack Welpott, Robert W. Fichter, and Betty Hahn.

Smith was often involved in the cutting edge of photographic techniques: in 1931 he started experimenting with high-speed flash photography of action subjects, and started doing color work in 1936 when few people considered it a serious artistic medium. His later images were nearly all abstract, often made directly (without a camera, i.e. like photograms), for instance images created by refracting light through splashes of water and corn syrup on a glass plate. However, although acclaimed as a photographic teacher, Holmes’ own photographs and other images did not achieve any real recognition from his peers.