View Full Version : Clarence H White exhibit and book

26-Aug-2017, 19:23
Coming soon:


A 408 page book and traveling exhibit. Can't wait for it to come to Maine next year.

If you don't know of Clarence, you may know of some of his students and collaborators... A who's who of photography a hundred years ago. I love his style, story, and subjects. I do wonder if such a big exhibit and book will bring him out of near obscurity.

Jim Noel
27-Aug-2017, 13:37
He is a favorite of mine - a photographer who really knew how to teach. I can hardly wait for the book.

Jim Fitzgerald
27-Aug-2017, 15:38
Me too!

27-Aug-2017, 16:40
I have always felt that White never got his due in the timeline of photography. I feel he is as important and likely more important the Stieglitz in the development of American photography. The Ford foundation monograph, The New Vision: Photography Between the World Wars : Ford Motor Company Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the text Pictorialism into Modernism: The Clarence H. White School of Photography both wet the appetite for this position and here is an interesting paper on the subject
Looking forward to a new assessment in the issues.

Will Whitaker
28-Aug-2017, 08:26
Thanks Jason for this heads-up! Looks like I'm up for a Maine vacation nex' summah! 'Bout time to head back to Gilbert's, anyway...

David Schaller
29-Aug-2017, 06:41
Thanks for the heads up JP. This looks great.

11-Jan-2018, 08:17
I prepurchased the book and it arrived just before Christmas. It is magnificent; comprehensive with multiple contributors and a large selection of photographs (more than the exhibit). If you are a White fan then this will be a must have book.
I had some questions and initiated an email conversation with Anne McCauley the new "David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art"
She was wonderful in responding and sharing her wide ranging information of pictorialists. I learned that the Cleveland exhibit which is 11 months from now will be half the size due to space issues. So we hopped into the car for the 10 hour drive to see the closing day. And I am glad I did. While anything is better than nothing, if you plan to see this you should get to Davis Museum, Wellesley College (02/07/18–06/03/18) or Portland Museum of Art, Maine (06/30/18–09/16/18)
Anne McCauley is giving the keynote speech Feb 13 at Davis.
The exhibit shows both White's first and last photos and 4 rooms in between. There are yearbooks from his school filled with his students work, several examples of his commercial work, and a wide range showing his development over years. The curators notes beside each print are informative and insightful. The show has some insights the book does not and vice versa.
Well recommended.

11-Jan-2018, 09:18
Good to hear Bill! Have you heard if the Portland or Wellesley exhibits will be any different? The Portland one is close to me, but I'm inclined to visit both since I don't want to wait 6 months. I got the book for Christmas and it's very nice.

11-Jan-2018, 10:01
I think that 6 or 7 prints unglazed and in original 1898 frames can not travel, but otherwise the exhibits are to be the same. Indeed, there was a single file glitch in the computer screen display of student prints, so there may be 20 prints more to be seen, when that gets addressed.

11-Jan-2018, 10:16
I saw Clarence White School of Photography exhibit at Addison Gallery of American Art in North Andover MA a few years back. I was working in non silver processes at the time. I walked into this exhibit and the work was stunning, some absolutely beautiful images and craftsmanship, there were gum prints of a quality like I had never seen before. Excellent Platinum prints also
In my opinion it was a much better show than the Photo Succession exhibit at Springfield Museum of Art, Spflld, MA last year.

11-Jan-2018, 10:24
When is it due in Maine? Portland Museum of Art?

11-Jan-2018, 10:49
When is it due in Maine? Portland Museum of Art?
June 22, 2018 to September 16, 2018

Drew Wiley
11-Jan-2018, 19:03
I wonder if the label "Pictorialism" was originally a slur. It had a lot of wannabee painters using cameras (sound familiar, deja vu, fauxtoshoppy?). So I can understand the f/64 reaction, which soon attracted its own wannabees. But Clarence White was brilliant.

11-Jan-2018, 19:33
Drew, probably depends on who you ask and when... Painters looked down on them because it was not 100% handcraft. Being an Amateur is not a slur, which this book better explains.. White was an amateur who trained a whos who of professionals. Pictorialists were probably sometimes snobby to use big cameras and soft lenses as a way to do more artsy stuff than the hillbilly with a kodak brownie who must only press a button and leave the rest to Kodak and have no craftsmanship in the brownie photos. Then with the strength of modernism and it's f64 component, those still doing pictorialism were likely regarded as behind the times... [Like most here for one reason or another.] In respect to whether painters thought low of pictorialists, I don't think it mattered by that point.. Painting tradition had already been upended a couple of times with things like pre-raphaelites, japonism, impressionists, etc.. Pictorialists worked well with arts&crafts people and were often multi-art-talented. White's school employed artists with a painting background (such as Arthur Wesley Dow) and mixed with many contemporary painters of the day (as documented in Maine Moderns: Art in Seguinland, 1900-1940, of which White's school and Day's compound were prominent parts of Seguinland)

11-Jan-2018, 19:54
Arthur Wesley Dow was an Ipswich guy, there is a large collection of his Cyanotypes at the museum here in town.
Looking forward to Clarence White, ordered the book on Amazon.

12-Jan-2018, 13:29
The fundamental controversy of photography, sharp/documentary vs other styles/ artistic was born into the very start of photography ie Daguerreotype Versus Calotype. Certain practitioners were later heralded as forefathers and foremothers but it seems that the first mention of the word Pictorial in the photographic sense was Henry Peach Robinson's book "Pictorial Effect in Photography". Immediately thereafter the recurrent argument raised it's head as Emerson proposed the use of differential sharp/soft focus. The use of the word Pictorial presupposes the preeminence of English practitioners and ignores non English speaking countries where a name might not be so easily translated.
Initially American pictorialists used a variety of techniques to achieve the expression of artistic purpose. Scratching, gum, Platinum, selective brush development, pinhole, and straight printing. Frederick H. Evans was strictly a straight photographer. White specifically accepted all of the isms of photography in his teaching, specifically including modernism.
Only later as soft focus lenses became commercialized and widespread did Pictorialism become associated with just that idiom and even that was not correct.
Despite F64, which only lasted three years, Pictorialism has been a favorite form of photographic expression in numbers of photographers all along. Indeed if one accepts White's belief of a print as an expression of artistic intent, regardless of the technique used to get there, then the struggles of digital photography to find its nature is just another form of pictorialism.
Personally I think the timeline of American Photography goes much more naturally through White to Modernism and beyond, than the more tortured timeline of Newhall's Stieglitz to Strand to Adams and beyond.
The F64 and pictorialist debate was a pissing match between two men. Sometimes there is not a whole lot of difference between Cunningham and Kasebier for example

Drew Wiley
12-Jan-2018, 17:20
Even blatant pre-Raphaelites were sometimes capable of great work, like Julia Cameron. But most of it looks copycat kitchy to me. Steichen's "fuzzy wuzzy" portraits impress me more than he later crisp work. I could say the same about EW. But there's a helluva lot more involved than just owning a soft-focus lens. PH Emerson seems like a bridge, even though he later recanted. I never work in this style, but even so, there are a lot of valuable things we "Crispy Critters" can learn from the Fuzzy Wuzzies.

12-Jan-2018, 21:20
For me this was a 'no brainer' as White is an historically important photographer in a time that I have an active interest in and I actively print in a photo process from the period - the Kallitype. In fact, am on the very verge of adding the Bromoil process to my tool kit: I've acquired the brushes, ink, paper and chemistry for the process and this very day selected an 8x10 negative to begin on. So I put the book in my cart and checked-out.

I hope the exhibition make its way to the west coast. Momentarily I thought it would be in Portland, Oregon but, alas, it's Portland Maine.


13-Jan-2018, 21:11
Got an email from Amazon that they shipped it and is scheduled to be delivered Monday. The email contained an ad for https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/191105404X/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1 for only $4.33 and I ordered it and https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/030022401X/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1. A little overboard for me spending $100 this week on photography books but it's been a while since I last bought one and these three titles does strike a chord.


14-Jan-2018, 12:33
Can't believe it but the PO delivered the White book a few minutes ago and it was shipped just yesterday! This is a fine book printed on quality heavyweight paper and the photography reproductions are excellent. Hope the same holds for the two that I ordered last night. Amazon has two other books on historical photography that I want to get. After a long hiatus of books on the history of photography, several have been published within the past 18 months.


14-Jan-2018, 14:27
I think you will find the pictures in the book are ever so slightly softer than the actual prints. See what you think when you go.

15-Jan-2018, 00:13
While briefly thumbing through the book this morning, I was struck with how “soft” or low contrast the images were. I haven't ever printed in Pt/Pl yet but the process is very similar to the Kallitype – at least that is what Christopher sates in his book.. In Kallitype if you under expose a print it looks just that: underexposed; and the negative, of course, should be properly exposed. So it isn't the exposure that results in the low contrast. A soft focus lens does result in a less contrasty print but not that much. My last Kallitype posted in the Kallitype Thread was shot with a Veritar SF lens and while it softens somewhat the image it doesn't lower the contrast t the extent evident in Whites prints in the book. The lighting White used seems very soft and that could account for some of it and there is a ferric oxalate and potassium chlorate contrast control in the process which, in conjunction with the lighting could account for it.


15-Jan-2018, 07:04
I was unable to find in the new book my two Clarence White Camera Work prints to compare contrast or softness.

Your veritar is going to be contrastier than any lens White and his peers used as it's coated. Probably these guys shot meniscus lenses, most famous of which are the Pinkham's. Soft lenses took a further advance in contrast when Struss started flocking the barrel interior: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?41224-Karl-Struss-Pictorial-Lens&p=397825&viewfull=1#post397825

The style early on was often for what we'd consider very low contrast. Not till modernism picked up steam was contrast celebrated.

15-Jan-2018, 08:42
White's first lens was a Taylor, Taylor and Hobson Rapid View Portrait (or R.V.P.) of F11. This from White himself. As Garrett would notice there is a contradiction here. RVP"s were F8. Rapid View (Landscape) 's were F11. Anne McCauley and I debated this a bit and she shared that the Princeton collection also has White's
Taylor Taylor and Hobson RVP EQu. Focus lens, 18-75" no. 16392 (as inscribed on it) and a Pinkham and Smith semi-achromatic 20" lens.
Since most of White's work was early (before teaching) the original F11 lens was the likely one in use.
This is the Cooke at F8
This is the Cooke at F11
and for comparison this is Pinkham and Smith at F8 and F11

15-Jan-2018, 08:47
Two further things to say
1. Rather than the lens I think the tonal range of much of White's work is in the lighting and printing. He much preferred early dawn and evening shooting sessions.
2. White's negatives are quite sharp were the focus is, which is not always at the plane of the subject.

15-Jan-2018, 11:40
Two further things to say
1. Rather than the lens I think the tonal range of much of White's work is in the lighting and printing. He much preferred early dawn and evening shooting sessions.
2. White's negatives are quite sharp were the focus is, which is not always at the plane of the subject.

I agree especially with your first point above. He no doubt shot in soft light and further used chemical processes to lower the contrast to what you see in the prints. Apparently he also used tinted papers. The latter can be duplicated somewhat in the bromoil process by using or combining different colored inks.