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Christmas Ornament

A work made of gelatin silver print.

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  • A work made of gelatin silver print.


January 11, 1958


Minor White
American, 1908–1976

About this artwork

Minor White was a prolific photographer, editor, and teacher, as well as a cofounder of the influential photography magazine Aperture. Influenced by his studies of Zen and mysticism, White employed a subjective approach to photography, in which the overall feeling and texture of an image take precedence over its content; indeed, he held that photographs could be metaphors for inner emotional states. White preferred to work in sequences rather than individual pictures, bringing images together in synthesis. This picture comes from a sequence titled “The Sound of One Hand Clapping” (the title relates to a Zen koan, or riddle), which features abstract close-ups of ice and snow. With a star shape atop a triangular composition, the organic forms in the frost of his apartment window suggest a Christmas tree. “One does not photograph something simply for ‘what it is,’” White wrote, “but ‘for what else it is.’”


Currently Off View


Photography and Media


Minor White


Christmas Ornament


United States (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1958


Gelatin silver print


32.6 × 19.7 cm (image/paper); 46 × 35.8 (mount)

Credit Line

The Mary and Leigh Block Endowment Fund

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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