Minor White

Dates1908 - 1976
BornMinneapolis, Minnesota, United States
DiedBoston, Massachusetts, United States

...I found a name for some of my own photographs. I always photograph found objects; excepting portraits, all of my photographs are of found objects. And now, thinking of the best of them, I hear little crashes tinkling back twenty years, for the best of them have always been photographs that found themselves.

Minor White took up photography in college, making photomicrographs as a biology major. After graduation, he began to write poetry and to photograph his friends and the landscape. Around 1938 he moved to Portland, Oregon, where he became an architectural photographer for the Oregon Arts Project, a division of the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Influenced by a new acquaintance, he embarked on what would become a lifelong spiritual quest.

In 1941 White responded to a national solicitation from the Museum of Modern Art, sending three prints for an exhibition which the museum then purchased. Making his way to New York in 1945, he went to work at MOMA before relocating to California to teach with Ansel Adams. In 1952 White became one of the founders and the editor of Aperture magazine, an influential photography journal. The following year he joined Beaumont Newhall at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York, assuming editorship of its journal, Image, while also teaching at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

In the 1960s White became a cofounder of the Society for Photographic Education and accepted a teaching position at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he remained until his retirement in 1974.