Minor White | Beyond Appearances

Even if his name doesn’t sound familiar to a wider audience, Minor White (Minneapolis 1908 – Boston 1976) was without a doubt one of the most important photographers and popularizers of his time, who shaped and influenced more than one generation of great photographers. Thanks to an extraordinary technical ability, a deep passion for poetry and unusually sharp receptiveness, White was able to go beyond forms of nature, capturing their secrets and turning their appearance, giving them a visionary aspect, which transcends pure reality.

Captured through an almost mystical approach, White’s photos of landscapes, still life and close ups – often characterized by uneasiness and mystery – open numerous interpretations and free associations that seem to be related to the dream. Looking at his photos, most of the time it’s hard to fully understand the subjects and the viewers are caught and singled out to take on the assignment of making sense of his works.

The natural element is always present, but its metamorphosis can give birth to new perspectives, creating something completely different, apparently hidden before being captured on camera. The figurative parts are instrumental in triggering a phantasmagoric process that leads to abstraction. White’s photography is personal and introspective with different levels of interpretation, which vary from analytical observation of pure shapes to the universal research of truth. His photography has nothing to do with objectivity.

Though maintaining a strict control of the image in course of printing that separates his work from abstract expressionism and, at the same time, keeping distance from randomness of composition typical of European surrealism which reached the States together with its main representatives during the Second World War, White’s work and poetics were undoubtedly influenced by the cultural climate of the US at the time. Those were the years when photography and art grew closer, with the former starting to be truly conceived as a field of the latter, rather than simply a minor form of expression.

Monica Lombardi