Born in 1908, Minor White lived at a time when being openly gay was risky. He remained in the closet for much of his life, fearful of losing his teaching positions at institutions such as the California School of Fine Arts, Rochester Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology – a factor which helped shape his aesthetic vision, argues an exhibition of his work currently on show in Madrid, “employing close-ups and cropping to express what couldn’t be shown”.
Titled metaphors, the show includes 42 images which track White’s career from cityscapes through to abstract images of nature and symbolic, though precise, studies of the male body. “To White, the image stood for something larger than its literal subject matter – it represented an internal emotional state”, argues the exhibition literature.
“While rocks were photographed, the subject of the sequence is not rocks; while symbols seem to appear, they are barely pointers to significance,” wrote White in the introduction to his Fourth Sequence (1950). “The meaning appears in the mood they raise in the beholder; and the flow of the sequence eddies in the river of his associations as he passes from picture to picture. The rocks are only the objects upon which the significance is spread like sheets on the ground to dry.”
Minor White: metaphors is on show at the Loewe Gallery on Grand via 8, Madrid, until 25 August, part of the PHotoEspaña festival. www.phe.es