Exploring the Masters- Minor White

Minor White photo book

I was really looking forward digging into abstracts of Minor White, since I have not seen any of his work before. A little disappointment came when I was able to find only a single photography book in local libraries: “Life is Like a Cinema of Stills” by Filippo Maggia.

Yet, the book proved to be quite comprehensive, apparently from an exhibit of Minor white work gathered by Civic Gallery of Modena. It contained several bodies of wirk as well as assortment of single photographs.

The frist two portfolios: “Fourth sequence” and “Sequence 17″ really took my breath away. It was totally not what I expected, still remembering beautiful intimate landscapes by Elliot Porter, many of abstract quality and yet still recognizable. The rocks photographed by Minro White in those two portfolios are so totally different from Elliot Porter’s work. The focus of the images is only on the shape, lines, contrast of color and light. Looking at it, you completely loose interest in what was photographed, you just take it for what it is now. In this sense, his work reminds me more of abstract paintings than photography. And then, in between those abstract photographs, there is an occasional human figure, with same rock as a background.

“Song without words”, another finished body of work, is probably my favorite. Water is my element, and just observing light shimmering on the waves fascinates me.

Among single images, those taken in Capitol Reef really drew my attention. Again, these are not your typical landscapes from the region, they are abstract of shape and light, and in fact, could have been taken anywhere. And there is my favorite, called “Found Sculpture”, randomly shaped by nature rocks, which look like couple sculptured by Rodin. Further down, “Window, Easter Sunday” and “Windowsill Daydreaming” are great examples that you can find great photographs everywhere, you just need to look around you.

It was really inspiring to go through pages of “Life is Like a Cinema of Stills”, if only to discover another way to look at nature photography, even more abstract.

Previously in the “Exploring the masters” series I written about:

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  • Radek Kozak

    Gotta say i really appreciate the effort of this series Iza. Exploring the Masters is something i enjoy very much now on your blog and makes me want to go and explore photographers even more. Hope you’ll have enough forces to go on with it. Oh, and i’m not sure this is allowed but maybe an examplar spread of the library book ? :) Would certainly entice mind and would help to recognize which photographer one would like to explore deeper ;) p.s already checked Minor White in my local library – of course there is nothing and i was interesting to check abstract part you’re referring to :/ …. anyway keep up good work Iza

  • http://www.korwelphotography.com Iza

    Thanks, Radek. I know I had a break before I finally had time to sit down and write this Minor White post, and I had few moments of doubt if it it is any useful. After all, you are right, adding few photographs or spreads would be helpful. I need to think about it. I always check if maybe Faded&Blurred did a Spotlight on photographer so I can link or if there are images on WikiCommons, but this is rare. And if you want to see one of Minor White abstracts, one which actually made me go and find more, look at this post from LensWork:
    http://daily.lenswork.com/2012/12/capitol-reef-1962-by-minor-white.html
    I totally forgot to add this link to post! Is is is just me, or can you also see reflection of rock and sky?

    By the way, Michael Kenna comes next, just got four books from library today!

  • Radek Kozak

    Ouch, this IS good and no, it is not just you, i see it too (among other things – but that’s the beauty of abstract hehe)

    And thanks for the heads up on Michael Kenna – i’m definitely gonna tune in to that !!

    P.S it is useful, no one can know everyone in the photography world so every atempt to bring them a little closer is helpful in my opinion

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