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Photo of the Week #29

Minor White

Minor White, Root and Frost, 1958

Minor White, Root and Frost, 1958


April 2, 2019
Last week I phoned Peter Bunnell, historian, eminent scholar on Minor White, and former MOMA curator, to pick his brain on this signed and dated 1958 photograph by Minor titled Root and Frost.  It turns out that there is quite a bit of history here.  The "root" was a gift from the photographer Barbara Morgan.  The bottle was of a Rose wine, Minor's favorite drink at that time.  And the glowing light behind the frosted single-pane window was from a spotlight that Minor had installed on the building next door to his house on Union Street in Rochester, NY.  Furthermore, the presence of the bottle indicates that this is a very early print, as Minor eventually decided that the inclusion of the bottle diminished the ephemeral nature of the picture, thus future prints and book illustrations have the bottle cropped out. Being a wine drinker, I prefer this version with the bottle.

Turning to the back of the mount and the MOMA label, Peter explained that the former Art Lending Service on the 6th Floor at the Museum of Modern Art was an extra benefit provided to museum members, who were encouraged to buy photographs, or on occasion, rent them for a period of time.  This print at the time was  FOR SALE ONLY.  $50