Taking a photograph these days, using the ubiquitous multi-functional cellphone, is almost too easy. The true art of photography is almost always absent, the effort photographers such as Minor White, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange and others put into their photographic art was something else entirely.
A nutshell biography from International Photography Hall of Fame
Minor White (9 July 1908- 24 June 1976) was an American photographer, educator, editor and critic. Recognized for his intense commitment of photography and the boldness of his vision, he devoted himself to achieving broad recognition of photography as an art form.
White was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and studied botany at the University of Minnesota. He worked for several years at odd jobs before concentrating on photography. He was largely self-taught and exhibited a direct, documentary approach in his early work. He worked as a photographer for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Oregon from 1938 to 1939 and served as an infantryman in the Philippines from 1942 through 1945 during World War II, receiving the Bronze Star.
After the war, White’s photographs began to reflect spiritual issues and the influence of his studies of Roman Catholicism, Zen Buddhism, and mysticism. White believed that taking and viewing a photograph are spiritual, intellectual acts. A photograph is capable of expressing intangibles, and what it creates for the viewer is an important as what the artist had in mind.
White moved to New York City after the war and studied at Columbia University. In 1946 he joined the faculty of the California School of Fine Arts where he worked under Ansel Adams. White founded Aperture magazine with Adams, Dorothea Lange, and Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, among others. He succeeded Adams as Director of the California School of Fine Arts (now the San Francisco Art Institute) in 1947 and served as professor of photography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1965 to 1976.
In a piece by Susan Stamberg at the NPR website, she writes that White was an outsider with a quirky sense of humor, White had different ideas, Martineau says. He was brave in what he chose to photograph, at a time when some subjects were dangerous.
"His struggle with his homosexuality was a key factor in his work," Martineau explains. "Throughout his entire career he remained closeted. He had to. He was teaching in various university art programs, and if someone had found out he could've lost his source of livelihood, so it was very serious."
Look HERE for more than a dozen good-sized images of White's photographs.
Google Image page has a good selection of his photographs too.
Three I especially like - it's difficult to present these at their best in a Blogger blog, clicking on them might improve the images.
|Frosted Window, Rochester, New York (1952).|
|Road with Poplar Trees|
|Sandstone Lobos, "Returning Wave". 1950.|
Born on 9 July 1908 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Time of birth not known, chart set for 12 noon.
|Self portrait, 1965.|
Saturn in Aries squaring the above "signature" brings in some difficulties reflecting, possibly, White's closeted sexual preference. Moon's position can't be known without a time of birth, but at noon it was in Scorpio, making it quite likely to have been in the same sign at his birth. A Scorpio Moon, which might be in trine to his sensitive Cancer Sun, could also play in to a need for secrecy as to his sexuality.