Controversial, misunderstood, and sometimes overlooked, Minor White (1908 1976) is one of the great photographers of the twentieth century, whose ideas exerted a powerful influence on a generation of photographers and still resonate today. His photographic career began in 1938 in Portland, Oregon, with assignments for the WPA (Works Progress Administration). After serving in World War II and studying art history at Columbia University, White’s focus shifted toward the metaphorical. He began creating images charged with symbolism and a critical aspect called equivalency, referring to the invisible spiritual energy present in a photograph made visible to the viewer.
This book brings together White’s key biographical information his evolution as a photographer, teacher of photography, and editor of Aperture, as well as particularly insightful quotations from his journals, which he kept for more than forty years. The result is an engaging narrative that weaves through the main threads of White’s life, his growth as an artist, as well as his spiritual search and ongoing struggle with his own sexuality and self-doubt. He sought comfort in a variety of religious practices that influenced his continually metamorphosing artistic philosophy.
Complemented with a rich selection of more than 160 images including some never published before, the book accompanies the first major exhibition of White’s work since 1989, on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from July 8 to October 19, 2014.
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Paul Martineau is associate curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. He is the author of Paul Outerbridge: Command Performance (Getty Publications, 2009), Herb Ritts: L.A. Style (Getty Publications, 2012), and Eliot Porter: In the Realm of Nature (Getty Publications, 2012).Review:
"Martineau's introductory essay is not to be overlooked. It offers a comprehensive narrative of White's life and work, providing depth and understanding to the photographs...An important resource that belongs in academic libraries and any public libraries with a strong art collection." -- Library Journal
"The retrospective is accompanied by a large format book. It features a smart interpretive essay that is a model of clarity and concision by the organizer, Getty curator Paul Martineau, plus lavish reproductions of everything in the show." -- The Los Angeles Times
"Fully appreciating Minor White's images, like learning to taste the subtleties of a good wine, requires something of a learning curve. His landscapes, nudes, still lifes, and street photos all bear a very classic beauty...As this book makes clear, White was a tour de force, constantly seeking, always challenging himself with new projects...Amid the many retrospectives of White's career, this stands as one of the best overviews, an excellent starting point in your education on one of the world's greatest photographers." -- Mother Jones
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