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Minor White

July 9, 1908 - June 24, 1976


Born around the turn of the century in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Minor White was a prominent figure in mid-century American photography as a photographer, poet, critic, and educator. White’s early childhood exposure to photography came mostly from his grandfather, who was an amateur photographer and gifted Minor his first camera. Much of White’s early work consisted of nature scenes from Portland Oregon, where he lived, worked, and taught through 1940. Following a stint serving in World War II, White settled in New York City and began to think more seriously about his photographic practice. While in New York, he established ties with the Museum of Modern Art via Beaumont and Nancy Newhall, eventually becoming the museum’s official photographer and having some of his work acquired for their permanent collection. The 1950s were a formative period in White’s career where he became involved with other prominent photographers of the time, such Ansel Adams and Dorothea Lange, with whom he helped found Aperture Magazine. Minor continued to work and teach, including as an adjunct professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, until the end of his life. His images were greatly influenced by a number of philosophical thinkings, as well as Alfred Stieglitz’s idea of Equivalence – the notion that an image is greater than its immediate subject matter, and rather functions as both the subject and an immediate symbol of something more. Minor’s most successful images are infused with life in such a way that their property of equivalence is immediately apparent.

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