The Minor White Archive Research Grants Program is suspended through 2025 as construction of a bold and welcoming new Museum for Princeton continues.
After the program resumes, the Minor White Project Committee may again award short-term research grants to promote scholarly use of the Minor White Archive.
These research grants, which have a value of up to $5,000, are intended to help defray expenses incurred in traveling to and residing in Princeton during the tenure of the grant. The length of the grant will depend on the applicant’s research proposal but is ordinarily between one week and one month. Minor White Archive Research Grants must be fulfilled between late May and late August. The deadline for applications is rolling.
Applicants are asked to read the FAQ and submit a single Word or PDF (preferred) file containing a curriculum vitae or résumé, estimated budget, and research proposal (not exceeding five hundred words).
Applicants must also arrange for two confidential letters of recommendation to be sent directly to the Minor White Archive Research Grants Committee at email@example.com. Research proposals should address the relevance of the unique resources in the Minor White Archive to the proposed research. Prospective grantees are urged to explore the Minor White Archive website for detailed descriptions of holdings. The general collections of the Princeton University Art Museum are not relevant for the purposes of these research grants.
Minor White: Learning from San Francisco
In his dissertation "The Fountain: Art, Sex and Queer Pedagogy in San Francisco, 1945–1995," Jon Davies examines Minor White's pedagogical practice at the California School of Fine Arts (1946–53) in the context of the postwar migration of sexual minorities to San Francisco—not only what White taught his students but also what his students taught him in turn. Of his thousands of photographs of the Bay Area, Davies’s research will focus specifically on those of graffiti and those of young men—typically his friends and students—looking for traces of what White learned from a city where homosexuality was becoming increasingly visible.
Jon Davies is a Canadian curator, writer, and PhD Candidate in art history at Stanford University. He has held curatorial posts at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Oakville Galleries, and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. His book Trash: A Queer Film Classic, about the 1970 Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey film, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press, and More Voice-Over: Colin Campbell Writings, an edited anthology of the artist's video scripts and other texts, was recently published by Concordia University Press. His research focuses on the intimate intertwining of aesthetic and sexual experimentation in modern and contemporary art.
Minor White at MIT
The project is an exhibition and publication on Minor White’s teaching, curating, and collecting at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) during the final decade of his life, when he was director of the MIT Creative Photography Laboratory. The grant is also an opportunity to develop a collaboration between the Princeton University Art Museum and the MIT Museum regarding the White archival legacy at both institutions.
Gary Van Zante is curator responsible for photography collections at the MIT Museum. He has curated over 50 exhibitions of photography, ranging from American daguerreotype portraiture to György Kepes’s photograms and Gabriele Basilico’s urban photography. He recently collaborated on exhibitions of Berenice Abbott’s photographs with the Multimedia Museum (Moscow), Fundación MAPFRE (Madrid), the Photographische Sammlung (Cologne), and the Centre Pompidou (Paris), and contributed catalogue essays on her science photography. He is the author of books on nineteenth-century photography in New Orleans and the German photographer Ulrich Wüst.
Minor White and the Practice of Photo-Criticism
Our current research, part of a book we are writing on the institutional history of photography in the United States, examines the way in which Minor White aspired to establish photo-criticism as a genre of writing. We will specifically investigate his role as editor-in-chief of Aperture, one of the primary venues in which photo-criticism emerged and developed in the United States. We hope to locate the intersection of this critical writing with the actual artistic practices White himself evolved, and the broader panoply of work Aperture championed at the time. We also wish to explore the relationship between the editorial program White instituted at Aperture with photo-curation, a domain that, like photo-criticism, also made foundational advances during this historical juncture.
Josh Ellenbogen is associate professor in art history at the University of Pittsburgh. He focuses on the history of photography, scientific representation, and historiography. His book Reasoned and Unreasoned Images: Bertillon, Galton, Marey concerned deployments of photography in scientific investigation in the late nineteenth century, while the anthology of essays Idol Anxiety (coedited with Aaron Tugendhaft) treated idolatry as a problem in theory of representation. With Adam Jolles, he currently researches photography's postwar institutional history in the United States.
Adam Jolles is associate professor in the Department of Art History at Florida State University. He is the author of The Curatorial Avant-Garde: Surrealism and Exhibition Practice in France, 1925–1941 (Penn State University Press, 2014). He cocurated the Art Institute of Chicago exhibition Windows on the War: Soviet TASS Posters at Home and Abroad, 1941–1945 and contributed to its catalogue (Yale University Press, 2011). He has published articles and book chapters on Surrealism in France and the United States and museology in the Soviet Union.
Minor White and Frederick Sommer
My dissertation critically re-evaluates the career of American photographer, Frederick Sommer (1905-1999). Looking closely at the years 1939-1966, I consider the tense, yet productive relationship between Sommer and the canonical figures of the photographic tradition. In particular, I seek to examine his position in the prominent photographic journal, Aperture (1952-), and his relationships with Minor White, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, and Nancy and Beaumont Newhall. Without White’s publication of Sommer in Aperture, I argue, it is possible that his work would have been pushed into obscurity by the photographic majority. Between 1939-1966, Sommer’s name appears in 14 articles and 46 of his photographs were reproduced. In 1962, an entire Aperture monograph was devoted to his work. During my time at Princeton, I intend to explore founding documents on Aperture, White’s correspondence with the journal’s board members, and his direct conversations with Sommer regarding the Aperture monograph, exploring the critical significance of White and Aperture to Sommer’s career.
Catherine Barth is a Ph.D. candidate at Emory University. Her dissertation, titled “Frederick Sommer: At the Limits of Avant-Garde Photography,” offers the first comprehensive study of Sommer’s innovations within modernist photography from 1939-1966. Catherine is the former recipient of a Mellon Fellowship in Curatorial Research, the High Museum Predoctoral Research Fellowship in Photography, and is currently the graduate intern in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She has received additional support through a Davidson Family Fellowship from the Amon Carter Museum and a Kenneth J. Botto Research Fellowship from the Center for Creative Photography.
Reading Photographs: Minor White and the Problem of Audience
No artist in the twentieth century thought more deeply about the problem of audience response than Minor White. The special qualities of the photographic medium—its chemical connection to world, and its seeming displacement of the photographer’s intent—led White to explore every facet of audience response in order to discover a means to convey complex ideas through a medium that seemed to resist the very idea of communication. Looking back on White's photographic and theoretical practice one discovers that all of the central themes of the post-60s theorization of photographic significance—indexicality, chance, automatism, affectivity, sexual difference—are not only present in White’s account of “Creative Audience” but are given a depth of attention unprecedented for his moment and beyond.
Todd Cronan is associate professor of art history at Emory University. He is the author of Against Affective Formalism: Matisse, Bergson, Modernism (2013) and articles on photographic "previsualization," chance photography, orthodoxy, Brecht, Rodchenko, Max Ernst, Minor White, R. M. Schindler, Richard Neutra, the Eameses, Merleau-Ponty, Santayana, Simmel, and Valéry. He recently completed a book on Brecht, Rodchenko, and Eisenstein and a study of architectural modernism in Southern California. He is a founder and editor of nonsite.org.
Minor White's Atlantic Translations
This project considers movement in White's history: both his own, overseas and through various American cities, and of the work itself, through its various translations and citations after White's death. Through such movement, White's photographs were in dialogue with the homoerotic currents of his own era and, later, gained new life in critical dialogue with artists of the late 20th century.
Ian Bourland is a critic and historian of photography and the global contemporary. He is an alumnus of the University of Chicago and the Whitney ISP and assistant professor of art history at Georgetown University. He is a contributor to a range of international publications, such as frieze and Aperture, and his first book—on photography and diaspora in the 1980s—is forthcoming from Duke University Press.
Lessons in Photography: Minor White before Aperture
This project examines White’s visual and textual production from the late 1940s and early 1950s. Starting from White’s attention to problems of camera format, it charts his evolving conception of photographic “experience” and its influence upon the eventual editorial direction of Aperture magazine.
Brendan Fay is an assistant professor in the School of Art and Design at Eastern Michigan University, where he teaches courses in modern and contemporary art history. He completed his dissertation on photography and abstraction at Harvard University and works on issues related to modernism and photographic education in the United States. Additional research interests include problems of abstraction and materiality in contemporary photography, along with aspects of performance, sound, and new media. His writing has appeared in History of Photography, Artforum, and Exposure. His current projects include a catalogue raisonné of color photographs by László Moholy-Nagy.