Certainly a great photographer, a pleasure to be reminded of his work. I find myself wondering about the whole idea of ranking, though, at that level. Does he get the gold, the silver or just the bronze? Such questions don't strike me as adding much. And how could agreement possibly be reached?
Ah Ken, that's the trouble with writing: it's often not quite explicit enough, and just when you think it might be, you realise that it's been too
explicit to the point of suggesting exclusions and/or second-tiers...
In 'best of the bunch' I'm not suggesting a grading of 'almost equals' as per an Olympics, within the same event; I'm thinking of a level that's beyond comparison for the simple belief that there are no others that quite fit the category. Photojournalism was a genre that spawned many players, some good, some great and some just famous. Gene was something else: he lived it as an obsessive. He wasn't a rich kid playing at slumming it on an Amex card (not that there used to be Amex cards) and neither was he a full-time war-junkie living/dying on the edge, whatever that really is - suicidal? He did many different things. He was out there on his own, following a star that couldn't be reached, not because of him, but because the rocket to propel him there hadn't yet been invented.
Today, I believe the rocket, as in the means to showing his oeuvre, does exist: not as magazine - they hardly exist for that genre at all - and not within art gallery; I think it exists as an Internet publication.
I recently cast my doubts on the validity of much art gallery-related activity; this would be something really valuable that some such loaded body could take upon itself to do for the general weal: employ a fresh young graduate/intern and entrust him/her with digitizing the essay on Pittsburgh, once and for all, and putting it up on a dedicated website. Maybe the great city of P might foot a part of the bill? I only saw a tiny fraction of said essay within the pages of Popular Photography Annual
many decades ago, but suffice to say that it was powerful enough to engage with, and hold place in my memory ever since.