Minor White 1908-1976

  • Born Minneapolis. Studied Botany at University, then worked as a photographer and taught photography until drafted in 1942.
  • After his discharge from the army in 1945 he studied Art history and aesthetics and spent time in New York he met Alfred Steiglitz, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams and with them formed Aperture magazine. He also met Beaumont and Nancy Newhall curators of the Museum of Modern Art.
  • Began by photographing rural landscapes in a meticulous way like Ansel Adams but already included symbolic references.

white cross

  • Zen philosophy and mysticism permeated his work and he became known for images of landscapes, architecture and men.
  • 1946 he was and invited to teach by Ansel Adams at the California School of Fine Arts, made still life photographs in the style of Edward Weston. He began to investigate “equivalency” where the image stands for something other than the subject matter developing this with sequencing..
  • 1947 Photographed landscapes in California and visits Point Lobos that Weston’s photographs of intimate landscapes and was inspired by:



Point Lobos State Park, California November 20, 1946 (Princeton University Art Museum s.d.)

  • Studied Eastern and Western religions and made sequence of images Sound of one hand a way of communicating ecstasy. Developed a mystical approach to photography, often creating deep abstract images that enabled the reading of photographs as a means of self-enlightenment.
  • Visited Capitol Reef National Monument, Utah:


Highway Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah Biography | Princeton University Art Museum (s.d.)


Rye Beach, New Hampshire December 25, 1966

  • 1952 was part of the group that founded the photographic journal Aperture which he then edited for 23 years.
  • 1953 he moved to Rochester to work with Nancy Beaumont Newhall and teach in he read extensively around comparative religions and the orient as well as giving meditative sessions to his students. Editor of Aperture a journal for fine art photography for 20 years.
  • From 1968 White stops traveling in the west and takes shot trips in the east to Maine Vermont and Nova Scotia.


Vicinity of Lincoln Gap Road, Vermont July 1968


Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia September 1969

  • Published a number of books including, Sequence 6 (1951), Mirrors Manifestations (1969), and Octave of Prayer (1972).
  • Later in life his work became less depictive and naturalistic and moved towards more reductive abstract images.
  • His last sequence of work were sequence 1969 and 1970 retitled the Totemic sequence and are eastern landscape imagery.
  • Late in life when aware of his own mortality took this image of a decaying boat which is a metaphor for reaching the end of life.

white boat.JPG


Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999.

Minor White: Manifestations of the Spirit (Getty Center Exhibitions) (s.d.) At: (Accessed on 23 August 2019)

Point Lobos State Park, California (x1980-552) | Princeton University Art Museum (s.d.) At: (Accessed on 23 August 2019)

Princeton University Art Museum (s.d.) [Online] At: (Accessed on 23 August 2019)

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