in 1978, Smith became the first Black female photographer to be included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Ming Smith's practice is a tale of five decades spent examining transitory occurrence—intervals at which figures blur, atmospheres alter, vistas haunt, souls whir, and opposites engage in allied work. Smith’s photographic approach is both scientific and celestial, and experimentation and adventure mark her fascination with detail as it stretches across form and mood. Her dedication to music, dance, and theater underlines the synergistic excellence that characterizes her secondary, if metaphoric, occupations as anthropologist, historian, and poet.


Many of Smith’s subjects are well-known Black cultural figures, such as Alice Coltrane, Grace Jones, Nina Simone and Tina Turner.


Harlem-based, Detroit-born Ming Smith became a photographer when she was given a camera at a young age. She was the first female member to join Kamoinge, a collective of Black photographers in New York in the 1960s who documented Black life. 

Smith was recently included in ‘Soul of a Nation’ at Tate Modern in collaboration with Brooklyn Museum, Crystal Bridges and The Broad. She was also featured in Brooklyn Museum’s ‘We Wanted A Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85.’ Her work was exhibited in conjunction with Arthur Jafa’s ‘A Series of Utterly Improbable, Yet Extraordinary Renditions’ at Serpetine Galleries, London; Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin; Galerie Rodolfinium, Prague and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Smith’s work is in the collections of MoMA, the Whitney Museum of Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Art, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. She was included in MoMA’s 2010 seminal exhibition, ‘Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography’.

Art Fairs