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Clarence H. White
Date: American, 1871 - 1925
Biography:

An influential teacher and leading Pictorialist, Clarence White photographed intimate and idyllic studies of family and friends. He used natural light to create a rich atmosphere and a quiet domestic sensitivity that resist sentimentality. White was influenced by the paintings of John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, and the early Impressionists, as well as Art Nouveau and Japanese art.

Born in Newark, Ohio, White worked as bookkeeper in his father's grocery business as a young man. He took his first photographs on his honeymoon in 1893, and fist exhibited work in 1896. In 1898 he founded the Newark Camera Club and met Gertrude Käsebier, F. Holland Day, and Alfred Stieglitz. White was elected an honorary member of the New York Camera Club in 1899, and had his work exhibited there, and he was named to England's Linked Ring Brotherhood in 1900. He was a founding member of the Photo-Secession in 1902, along with Stieglitz, Käsebier, Alvin Langdon Coburn, and others. He moved to New York in 1906 and exhibited at "291." The following year he taught the first photography courses offered at Columbia, and from 1908 to 1921 he taught at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. White's work was reproduced in Camera Work, and he participated in the International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography in Buffalo in 1910. He quarreled with Stieglitz in 1912, and soon established his own school; his students included Margaret Bourke-White, Dorothea Lange, Laura Gilpin, Ralph Steiner, and Paul Outerbridge. White cofounded the Pictorial Photographers of American in 1916 and organized its national exhibition two years later. He died while accompanying students in his summer school to Mexico City. Exhibitions of White's work have been held at the Museum of Modern Art, the Delaware Art Museum, and ICP. In 1996 the George Eastman House and the Detroit Institute of Arts presented an exhibition and publication entitled Pictorialism into Modernism: The Clarence H. White School of Photography, which explored White's legacy through his students' work.


Lisa Soccio
Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 231.