Text from Peter C. Bunnell, A New History of Photography
Minor White and photographic education"Minor White, who began his career as teacher in 1946 at the California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco, was one of the most influential professors of photography in the postwar United States. While favoring personal emotions and creativity, Minor White sought to encourage his students to acquire a total mastery of every technical aspect of the subject in question.
"Based on ideas resulting from his first contact with the work of Alfred Stieglitz and from his great interest in psychology, White launched the notion of expressive photography and the "reading of photographs". It involved using the camera to reveal one's personal feeling as symbolized by objects in the real world. In Minor White's perspective one does not photograph something simply for "what it is", but "for what else it is".
"To really get this idea across to his students, he suggested projects to them which were inspired by various procedures based on the greatest affirmation of the self, These ranged from the study of theatre techniques - a lifelong enthusiasm which White first acquired on reading Acting: the First Six Lessons by Richard Boleslavsky - to sessions in Zen meditation, and, later, the application of Gurdjieff's teaching.
"From 1952 he completed his teaching work with the publication of the photographic magazine Aperture. Over a period of twenty years he published numerous articles such as "The Way through Camerawork" (1959), in which he set forth his concept of photography to the wider public.
"In 1953 Minor While left California to teach at the Rochester Institute of Technology. In 1965 he was appointed professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) in Cambridge, where he remained until his death in 1976. His adherence to the new workshop system contributed to consolidating his reputation as much as the posts which he held in these prestigious institutions. These workshops, which fostered deeper relationships between teacher and student and which became celebrated, consisted of work groups which studied given questions in depth. They came about in the 1960s with the quest for new methods of education.
"Throughout his whole career Minor White gave courses but once a year he directed intensive summer workshops just about everywhere in the United States. This allowed him to infuence a much greater number of students from a wide variety of backgrounds.
"Minor White understood that to ensure expressive photography gained the status of fine art, he must teach the public to appreciate these images. Towards the end of his life he set up a program called "Creative Audience" at M.I.T., with the intention not of creating future artists, but of giving the public the reading tools which would favor better communication and richer exchanges."
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