Clarence H. White and His World

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Purchase of Clarence H. White ticket includes General Admission to all galleries.

A pioneer in early twentieth-century photography, Clarence H. White played a pivotal role in asserting the medium’s place as an emerging art form at the turn of the twentieth century. Organized by the Princeton University Art Museum—home to a major archive of White’s work and related materials—this first retrospective in decades reexamines the photographer’s contributions to the field, establishing his place among the ranks of his storied contemporaries—Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, and Alvin Langdon Coburn, among others.

Beginning with the self-taught artist’s early experimentations with photography in Newark, Ohio, the exhibition introduces visitors to White through his forays into “pictorialism,” an approach that favored beauty of subject matter, tonality, and composition over the documentation of reality. Drawing inspiration from the contemporary art world of the day—the Arts and Crafts movement, Japanese woodcuts, and trends in portraiture and genre painting—White created hauntingly beautiful images printed using an array of papers and processes and constructed through the sensitive disposition of light and shadow. These images of tranquil domesticity and childhood wonder earned him esteem internationally and paved the way to his participation in 1902 in the newly formed Photo-Secession led by Alfred Stieglitz.

White began teaching photography in 1907, initially part-time. Later he would organize summer courses in Maine and Connecticut, and ultimately establish the Clarence H. White School of Photography in New York. White and his students—both men and women—went on to influence the fields of fashion, advertising, and art photography in the United States and abroad. Work created by his most successful students, such as, Laura Gilpin, Paul Outerbridge, Anton Bruehl, Margaret Watkins, and Doris Ulmann, is included in the exhibition. Clarence H. White and His World reasserts White’s place in the American canon and, in the process, reshapes and expands our understanding of early twentieth-century American photography.

Clarence H. White and His World: The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895–1925 has been organized by the Princeton University Art Museum. The exhibition has been curated by Anne McCauley, the David H. McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art, Princeton University.

The exhibition has been made possible, in part, with generous support from the Henry Luce Foundation.

Organized for the Davis by Claire Whitner, Assistant Director of Curatorial Affairs and Senior Curator of Collections, and Mark Beeman, Manager of Exhibitions and Collections Preparation. Presented at the Davis with generous support from Wellesley College Friends of Art at the Davis, The E. Franklin Robbins Fund, Sandra Cohen Bakalar ‘55 Fund, and the Mellon Endowment for Academic Programs at the Davis Museum Fund.

Image Credit: Clarence H. White, The Sea [Rose Pastor Stokes, Caritas Island, Connecticut], 1909, printed after 1917. Palladium print. Princeton University Art Museum x1983-496

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The Davis Museum, Wellesley College 106 Central Street
Wellesley, MA 02481
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