APERTURE 9:2 [Five Photography Students from the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology]. Rochester, NY: Aperture, Inc., 1961.

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Five Photography Students from the Institute of Design,
Illinois Institute of Technology

Minor White [Editor]

Minor White [Editor]: APERTURE 9:2 [Five Photography Students from the Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology]. Rochester, NY: Aperture, Inc., 1961. First edition. Slim quarto. Thick photo-illustrated saddle-stitched wrappers. 48 pp. 39 black and white plates. Cover photograph by Joseph Sterling. Interior unmarked and very clean. Out-of-print.  Glossy wrappers lightly worn, but a very good or better copy.

å8 x 9.5 saddle-stitched softcover book with 48 pages and 39 black and white plates. Back cover photograph by William La Rue. A beautifully printed compendium of influential photographers.

  • Editorial by Minor White
  • Introduction, "Photography Is" by Arthur Siegel
  • Ken Josephson
  • Joseph Sterling
  • Charles Swedlund
  • Ray K. Metzker
  • Joseph Jachna

One of Chicago's great cultural achievements, the Institute of Design was among the most important schools of photography in twentieth-century America. It began as an outpost of experimental Bauhaus education and was home to an astonishing group of influential teachers and students, including László Moholy-Nagy, Harry Callahan, and Aaron Siskind.

In 1937 László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946), a Hungarian Jew fleeing Nazi Germany, was brought to Chicago by the city's industrial leaders to establish a school of industrial design to be modeled after the original Bauhaus in Germany, the pioneering school of art, design and architecture where Moholy had taught previously. Although the New Bauhaus lasted only one year (1937-1938), it was quickly reorganized as the School of Design (1939-1944) and eventually became the Institute of Design (1944-present). The photographs produced in the ID's early years were controlled studio experiments, more concerned with form and materials than with imitating works by photography's masters or documenting the world. Moholy's photograms, for example, are elegant light studies that reveal the complete scale of gray between black and white and illustrate photography's abstract potential.

Along similar lines, faculty member György Kepes (1906-2001) produced an extensive series of photographs of his wife in which he explored solarization and negative exposure and even painting on the picture's surface. Nathan Lerner (1913-1997), a student and later teacher at the ID, worked with refractive lenses and photomontage and used his light box to test the pictorial effects of pure light. Another student, Milton Halberstadt (1919-2000), produced a triple -exposed portrait to showcase photography's capacity for simultaneous vision. At a moment when American photography was largely confined to more conventional portraiture, landscape or documentary reportage, these experimental and abstract pictures revealed the enormous creative potential of the medium.

As the school grew, Moholy hired Arthur Siegel (1913-1978) and Harry Callahan (1912-1999) to lead a new, four-year program in photography. After Siegel resigned, Callahan hired Aaron Siskind (1903-1991), and the two formed a superbly effective teaching team that is now legendary. Under their leadership, the program's emphasis shifted from experimentation toward the development of individual vision and subjective expression.

Callahan invented problem-related exercises such as documenting the alphabet in the environment to encourage students to work in series, and Siskind developed an exercise to discover forms in plants. Students worked in groups to create documentary projects and individually to create sustained photographic series for their theses.

Many of the ID students also hit their photographic stride in their thesis projects, including Joseph Jachna (born 1931), who studied the changing forms of water;  and Ray K. Metzker (born 1931), who turned his camera on pedestrians and shadows in Chicago's Loop.

Aperture was founded in 1952 by six profoundly gifted individuals possessed of lofty ideals and high ambition: photographers Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, and Minor White; historian Beaumont Newhall; and writer/curator Nancy Newhall. With scant resources, these prescient artists created a new periodical, Aperture magazine, to serve the medium, and photography users and fine art lovers worldwide.