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Minor White: Rites & Passages; His Photographs Accompanied by Excerpts from his Diaries and Letters

IN THE PAST YEAR the crushing torrent of books on photography, including tiresomely redundant surveys, historical potboilers and full-scale monographs purveying the most inconsequential reputations, has not let up. We do, however, come across something quite extraordinary in the form of the 80th number of Aperture, that justly famous periodical series of photographic books. The 80th number is Minor White: Rites & Passages; His Photographs Accompanied by Excerpts from his Diaries and Letters, edited by James Hall Baker and Michael E. Hoffman (Aperture). Frankly, I don’t readily take to driftwood lyricism. And formalistic-romantic barn-door abstraction is something whose appeal, to me, is specific and historically limited. Also, I find maudlin those Zennish closeups of shyly natural inflections in otherwise formalized natural motifs: shivering little lichens or the exposed “inner life” of

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