Aperture at Sixty – Classic Covers

Aperture at Sixty: Classic Covers


The magazine now rooted in Rochester, Vol. 5, No. 1 included a number of essays focusing on photographic education, particularly on the photography department at the Rochester Institute of Technology, which had recently established a new Division of Photography and Printing.


Vol. 5, No. 2 was devoted to exploring the idea of reading photographs, and how someone looking at a photography might "translate a visual experience from the realm of visual thinking into that of verbal expression."


Vol 5, No. 3 included two articles written by Minor White but published under pseudonyms, both exploring "The Experience of Photographs," a topic he'd continue to explore in later issues. One was credited to Myron Martin, the other to Sam Tung Wu.


"Postpone judgement! When starting to read, experience, or take part in a photograph first put aside both like and dislike…Come at a picture with an open mind, give it an even break, let it speak for itself." –Minor White, from "Some Methods for Experiencing Photographs."


Edward Weston: Photographer, the first issue dedicated to a single photographer, was a successful and influential issue of the magazine, and was later published as a book, The Flame of Recognition.


"Verbalizing about a visual experience should be done only AFTER the photograph is experienced and it should be done only if there is sufficient reason." –Minor White, from "To Recapture the Innocence of Vision," Vol. 6, No. 2.


Over the course of the '50s, Minor White became increasingly interested in education, and would lead workshops devoted to teaching the "art of seeing," with or without a camera. Future Aperture editor Michael Hoffman would meet Minor White at one of these workshops.


The "Substance and Spirit of Architectural Photography," the only significant text in this issue, was followed by photos exploring this subject by 18 different photographers. Future MoMA Director of Photography John Szarkowski had five pages dedicated to his work.


In 1959, the magazine shifted from its 9 ⅜-by-6 ¼-inch format to 9 by 7 ½ inches. The additional width afforded more space for horizontal photographs, and allowed for more creative layouts of text and images.


Minor White did not intend for images reproduced in Aperture to be facsimiles of the photographer's print: "This is ink; it's not silver. You're going to have to intensify it…to make it deeper, richer than a silver print would be."


In this issue, Minor White reviewed Robert Frank's The Americans. The 1959 U.S. edition of the book had not been well-received; Popular Photography criticized the photos for their 'meaningless blur, grain, muddy exposures, drunken horizons and general sloppiness.''


Vol. 7, No. 4 focused primarily on the work of Ralph Eugene Meatyard, a then relatively unknown photographer from Lexington, Kentucky. Meatyard had attended Minor White's summer workshops, where he had been influenced by White's interest in Zen Buddhism.


The second monographic issue of Aperture focused on the recently deceased Alfred Stieglitz, the American photographer who founded Camera Work magazine, a precursor to Aperture, in the early 20th century.


"The work is in three categories: ...the experimental or avant garde; occasional abstraction produced as a stimulating exercise; [and] the 'accidental' abstraction in which reportage is transformed through a strong sense of design." Vol. 8, No. 2 coincided with a show on abstract photography at MoMA, and included the press release for the exhibition.


"Death of a Valley" featured a photo-essay by Dorothea Lange documenting Monticello, a town in Napa County, California, which was demolished in the 1950s to build a reservoir. A text coauthored by Lange and Pirkle Jones accompanied the photographs.


An essay by Minor White in this issue laid out an exercise in portraiture, where subject and photographer repeatedly switch roles, and closely observe and analyze each other's expressions when faced with the camera.

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