Minor White - Photographs New York Tuesday, April 4, 2023 | Phillips

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  • Minor White, Herbert Hamilton, Rochester, 1959
    Reproduced with permission by The Minor White Archive, Princeton University Art Museum, bequest of Minor White © Trustees of Princeton University

    This photograph is part of a remarkable trove of prints given by Minor White to Herbert Hamilton in the 1950s and early 1960s. Hamilton was part of the tight-knit circle of students around White at the Rochester Institute of Technology who studied photography with him, both inside and outside the classroom, and became involved with White’s curricular and extracurricular endeavors. He was recruited by White to work on Aperture magazine, for which White served as editor, and was put in charge of subscriptions and distribution and was listed on the masthead from 1959 to 1961. Hamilton assisted White with the photographic workshops he conducted outside of his prescribed coursework, and Hamilton lived for a time at White’s apartment at 72 North Union Street.

    Correspondence between the two men, in the possession of Hamilton’s descendants, reveals a close and intimate relationship. The letters address the nature of their respective photographic work, cover quotidian matters pertaining to Aperture, and – on White’s side – offer the occasional poem. In 1960, Hamilton married Margaret ‘Peggy’ Clousten, and remained in Rochester to complete his studies with White at RIT before leaving for Boston in 1962 for graduate study at Boston University and to initiate his career as a professional photographer.

    Hamilton was an accomplished photographer whose work was frequently exhibited, most notably in the 1960 Museum of Modern Art exhibition The Sense of Abstraction where his photographs hung alongside those of White, Edward Weston, Harry Callahan, Edmund Teske, Aaron Siskind, Ray Metzker, and others pushing the boundaries of photographic expression. A one-man exhibition of Hamilton’s work was mounted at Boston University in 1963. Several of his images were published in Aperture from 1960 to 1970. Hamilton maintained an active career as a freelance photographer and teacher, conducting courses at Boston University and the Art Institute of Boston. The 1973 course catalogue for the latter notes that Hamilton was currently Museum Photographer for the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

    Hamilton and White maintained their friendship and their correspondence well into the 1960s. Over the years, White periodically sent his protégé photographs, including the one offered here.

    • Provenance

      Gift of the photographer to Herbert Hamilton
      By descent to the present owner

    • Literature

      White, Mirrors, Messages, Manifestations: Photographs and Writings, 1939-1968, pp. 113, 119
      Bunnell, Minor White: The Eye That Shapes, pls. 49 and 133
      Hershberger, The Time Between: The Sequences of Minor White, p. 196, pl. 10.3

    • Catalogue Essay

      The photographs included in this lot are as follows:

      Empty Head, 72 N. Union Street, Rochester, March, 1962
      Frost on Garage Window (Parker Alley, Rochester), February 15, 1958
      Vicinity of Rochester, March, 1961
      Arizona, September, 1960
      Figure in Mud (Capitol Reef National Park, Utah), 1962
      Zion National Park, Utah, September, 1960
      Untitled, n.d.


Selected Nature Studies

Seven gelatin silver prints, mounted.
Varying sizes from 7 7/8 x 5 1/8 in. (20 x 13 cm) to 12 1/4 x 8 3/4 in. (31.1 x 22.2 cm) or the reverse
Five either signed or initialed, most dated in pencil on the mounts, and one inscribed 'To Herb, for his disconsolat (sic) moments' in pencil on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$12,000 - 18,000 

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs

Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 4 April 2023