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Minor White, Photographs

February 5–April 3, 1983

Minor White (1908-1976), photographer, theoretician, editor, critic, and teacher, was one of the most influential American photographers from the 1950s until his death. His lifelong interest in spiritual development made him a magnet for young artists, fascinated by his exploration of the idea that the creative process can be a way to self-awareness. White trained as a botanist, and the universe he discovered under the microscope greatly influenced his art. Many of his images isolate a small part of an ordinary scene or object, imbuing the detail with beauty and mystery. In 1946 he met Alfred Stieglitz, whose concept of equivalence--the photographic image as metaphor--became central to his work. He once wrote: "At the beginning of a photographer's life, a photograph of a tree is a tree . . . but as he begins to be aware of a way of camera work, of equivalents, of photographs for contemplation, a photograph is no longer a tree but what-else-it-is; a photograph of a rock is no longer a rock but an expression of his soul." Some 100 of White's photographs from the Museum's collection have been selected for display, arranged, as the artist intended, in sequences so that individual prints borrow significance from each other to make a unified statement. The "equivalents" include landscapes, portraits, close-ups of nature, human environments, manufactured objects, and cityscapes.


Philadelphia Museum of Art
Oakland Museum of California
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
Flint Institute of Arts, Flint, Michigan
MIT Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Baltimore Museum of Art
Loch Haven Art Center, Orlando, Florida
Columbus Museum of Art, Ohio
Port Washington Public Library, Port Washington, NY
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

Main Building


The National Endowment for the Arts


Martha Chahroudi

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