Minor White and Walter Chappell
August 31st - November 27th, 2013
Both Minor White and Walter Chappell furthered our understanding of photography’s artistic potential. Scheinbaum & Russek are pleased to present both well-known and in some cases unique photographs by both of these important American artists.
Photography’s evolution away from concrete or discrete subject matter was inevitable as it developed as an art form. Begun in the 1940’s, and flourishing during the Post War years, the Abstract Expressionist movement in painting, with its emphasis on the spontaneous and subconscious creations, took hold in America. Artists such as Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Clifford Still and Mark Rothko promoted this anti-figurative aesthetic that philosophically resonates with the tenants of the Bauhaus.
From 1938 to 1946 The New Bauhaus/Institute of Design in Chicago, headed by Laszlo Maholy Nagy, continued their aesthetic approach in America that stressed the importance of design and the integration of a variety of subject areas. Teachers and students such as Gyorgy Kepes, Nathan Lerner, Arthur Siegel, Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, began to produce photographs with the emphasis on the design elements of shape and form, tone and texture, rather than concrete subject matter.
Alfred Stieglitz, who dedicated his life to photography’s acceptance as an art form, while promoting the works of other artists in his historical New York galleries, was a pioneering photographer himself. From 1925 to 1934 he produced a series of photographs entitled, “Equivalents”. These 4 x 5” photographs are recognized as the first photographic images intended to be free of subject matter and literal interpretation. Many consider them to be the first completely abstract works of art.
Minor White (19089 – 1976), after serving in World War II moved to New York City, spending two years studying aesthetics and art history at Columbia under Meyer Shapiro. His friendship with a circle of influential photographers including Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Walter Chappell was instrumental in his artistic development. Hearing Stieglitz’s idea of “Equivalents” from the master himself was crucial to his post war work and his own developing philosophies about imagery and what constitutes subject matter. His statement that, “I don’t photograph things for what they are, but for what else they are” articulates his approach. His photographic works, his teachings and writings, opened up a new understanding of photography as an “interpretive medium”, one capable of expressing our innermost thoughts and feelings rather than a medium for record making.
Walter Chappell (1925 – 2000). Following his military service Walter Chappell moved to San Francisco and resumed his friendship with Minor White whom he had met some years earlier in Portland, Oregon. His main pursuits at the time were music, painting and writing. In 1952 he attended The Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin Fellowship in Arizona. Following his residence at Taliesin, then recuperating from several year’s illness due to Tuberculosis, Chappell moved in 1957 to Rochester, New York, to begin a serious study of photography with Minor White. Chappell not only adapted Minor’s teachings, but their shared philosophies about the mind and other levels of consciousness manifested in his photographic works culminating in his development and use of electricity to produce his unique and highly regarded “Metaflora” photographs.
Both Minor White and Walter Chappell furthered our understanding of photography’s artistic potential. Scheinbaum & Russek are pleased to present both well-known and in some cases unique photographs by both of these important American artists. It has been 30 years since we first exhibited Walter’s work and, in celebration of our long admiration and friendship, as well as a major retrospective and publication being assembled by The Fondazione Fotografia in Modena, Italy, we are honored to be presenting this work to Santa Fe.
On exhibition will be a selection of many key and pivotal works by Minor White as well as a retrospective selection of Walter Chappell’s life’s work. Because of our long association with Walter and many of his friends in the Santa Fe community we have examples of works from several of his bodies of work, as well as prints Walter considered unique because of the loss of his negatives during a devastating fire in Rochester, New York in 1961. Some of those images were never able to be printed again.
Also available for viewing is an extremely rare original artist’s book, “Gestures of Infinity”.