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Minor White

(Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1908 - 1976, Boston, Massachusetts)

American

An innovative artist, a teacher who influenced a generation of photographers, a curator and an editor, Minor White’s impact on the medium of photography has been extensive. His technically masterful photographs are notable examples of spirituality and metaphor in photography. After studying Botany and English in his native Minnesota, White began work as a photographer under the Works Progress Administration in Portland, Oregon. He served in WWII, then moved to New York City to study Art History and Aesthetics at Columbia University. During this time he met many influential art photographers, including Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. White was particularly affected by Stieglitz’s concept of “equivalents,” developed in a series of images of clouds and skies, which relied deeply on the use of metaphor and sequence. White was also influenced by poetry and Zen philosophy. His photographs reflect the combination of Steiglitz’s conceptual ideas with technical lessons from Adams and Edward Weston. From 1946–1953, White was instrumental in developing the department of fine art photography at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco, the first of its kind in the United States. White dedicated much of his professional life to teaching photography in San Francisco as well as at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, leaving his mark on many students over more than two collective decades. White co-founded the influential photography magazine Aperture in 1952 and served as its editor until a year before his death. He also edited Image, a magazine published by George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, while he worked there as a curator in the mid-1950s. White’s work has been widely published and is held in many major art collections.

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