Transport and transformation are key to the enterprise of most of these photographers. Edward Weston, whose voluminous Daybooks Newhall edited, was interested in essaying forms; he didn’t inquire into subjects as Model and Levitt did but sought a posed musicality in the human face and the nude, in the shapes and textures of vegetables, rocks, trees. Minor White, who worked closely with Newhall for years at Aperture, was a mystical photographer whose practice owed a lot to Stieglitz’s equivalents. White made the physicality of the world into a rapture of unreal, fluorescent whites on darks. For him, everything material is a genesis story. His pictures have a slippery mystery, an ethereal otherness, as if he wants to capture the moment when nothingness begins to take shape and become materialized. His photograph of rows of poplars along a road make us feel we’re witnessing something coming into being, nature in the process of being born to our vision.
Nancy Newhall: A Literacy of Images
Museum of Photographic Arts, 1649 El Prado, 619-238-7559
On view through January 25, 2009