Correspondence Between Philip Hyde And His Mentor And Teacher Minor White
Philip Hyde first studied under Ansel Adams in the 1946 Summer Session at the California School of Fine Arts, now the San Francisco Art Institute. That Summer Session was also the first time Minor White attended a class taught by Ansel Adams. Minor White sat in on a few classes of the Summer Session and began to interact with Ansel Adams’ students. Ansel Adams observing how Minor White coached and worked with some of the students quickly phased Minor White into teaching. Minor White had already come highly recommended to Ansel Adams by Nancy and Beaumont Newhall, who knew Minor White from Columbia University and Minor White’s involvement with the influential circle of photographers in New York City that centered around Alfred Stieglitz. By the end of the Summer Session Ansel Adams had decided to turn the lead teaching role in the new Photography Department over to Minor White because Ansel Adams had just received a Guggenheim Fellowship to photograph the national parks.
At first the students attending the full-time program in the Fall of 1946 protested that they had chosen the school to study with Ansel Adams, as the California School of Fine Arts had advertised. However, as they began to hear what Minor White had to say and learn what he had to teach, they began to come around to appreciating Minor White in his own right. They also benefited from the added interest of having Ansel Adams drop in on class from time to time and debate with Minor White on their differing approaches to photography.
After attending the 1946 Summer Session, due to a mix-up with Philip Hyde’s application paperwork, he could not start in the first full-time class in the Fall of 1946. Minor White suggested to Philip Hyde that he use his G. I. Bill funding and attend classes at UC Berkeley during the year he would be waiting to start in the second full-time class at CSFA in the Fall of 1947. At UC Berkeley, Philip Hyde ran across a young lady he had met at a New Year’s party right after his December 1945 honorable discharge from the Army Air Corp of World War II. The young lady named Ardis King and Philip Hyde took a few classes together at UC Berkeley including a calligraphy and painting class from the famous Japanese painter Chiura Obata. Ardis King and Philip Hyde married in June 1947 and Philip Hyde started photography school that Fall. (Read more about the courses and their content in the series of blog posts starting with th blog post, “Photography’s Golden Era 6.” See also the blog post, “The Golden Decade: Photography At The California School Of Fine Arts.”)
Philip Hyde finished the three-year photography program in the Spring of 1950. After his graduation, he stayed in contact through correspondence and visits with Minor White, Ansel Adams and Edward Weston, Philip Hyde’s three primary mentors. Much later, beginning in 1970, Philip Hyde became one of only three California School of Fine Arts photography students who Ansel Adams invited to teach side-by-side with him in his prestigious and renowned photography workshops in Yosemite National Park and Carmel. The other two students from CSFA that taught with Ansel Adams were John Upton and Pirkle Jones. The files of correspondence after 1950 between Ansel Adams and Philip Hyde fill three large folders nearly two inches thick each. The letters between Edward Weston and Philip Hyde numbered less than a dozen because of Edward Weston’s failing health. Minor White and Philip Hyde had a more extensive correspondence, numbering somewhere between 20 and 30 letters each. To read the actual letters between Minor White and Philip Hyde please refer to the series of blog posts beginning with, “Minor White Letters 1.” Enjoy.
The Moment of Seeing: Minor White at the California School of Fine Arts by Stephanie Comer, Deborah Klochko and Jeff Gunderson
Ansel Adams: An Autobiography by Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams: A Biography by Mary Street Alinder