Ray Charles White | Through The Years

1991 – 2008
  • Ray Charles White Aluminum Water Study
    Aluminum Water Study

    Throughout years of collaboration with Durham Press beginning in 1991, artist Ray Charles White has created a complex oeuvre of prints drawing directly from his photography practice, most notably in his dynamic screenprints on aluminum panels. This collaboration, however, began with works on paper connected to themes he often explores outside of his work with Durham Press. White is largely known for his portrait photographs which aim to capture life in the moment, instead of in an artificial composition. Having photographed cultural figures such as David Hockney, Allen Ginsbery, Louise Bourgeois, and many other artists, musicians, and writers, White photographs these subjects in a way that is natural and sincere, while also skillfully composed. This practice was translated into print in his first edition with Durham Press, titled Portraits, a portfolio of five screenprints. The portfolio features closely cropped headshots of Henry Geldzahler, Roy Lichtenstein, William Burroughs, Dennis Hopper, and Leo Castelli, each staring directly into the camera in a distinct manner that captures the ethos of each subject. Influenced by his time with Warhol while photographing for Interview Magazine, White further alters the impression of these characters by printing them in soft tints of sepias, blues, and greens. Despite their similar format, each iteration creates their own individual identity.

  • Portraits
  • White's work with Durham Press soon evolved from portraiture to nature imagery, a natural step as White studied under Ansel...

    Surface Tension


    White's work with Durham Press soon evolved from portraiture to nature imagery, a natural step as White studied under Ansel Adams, best known for his dramatic landscape photography recalling the Sublime movement in art history. White, however, brings a dynamic twist to this tradition by printing directly onto aluminum panels. The works reflect the same energetic potential of a constantly moving body of water - a common motif for White - in the visual complexity of their medium. Much as their subject, each work changes as you walk around it or as the light shifts from day to night, flickering and changing as they interact with their surroundings. In both portraiture and nature, White captures the constant motion of life within an otherwise static image.


    Much as in his Portraits series, White distorts his work by closely cropping recognizable imagery. Through this abstraction, patterns begin to emerge, though White often interrupts these patterns by fragmenting the image into separate panels and rearranging their order. In Surface Tension, our eye at first sees a continuous body of water. As we trace the pattern of waves, we discover that these undulating lines have been broken. Despite the imagery of Surface Tension being a single photograph, this disruption encourages the viewer to look further to reveal new patterns and complexity in this familiar motif. White states: "within the context of photography, one of my challenges is to be open to capturing some of the more dynamic and serendipitous moments of the visual experience. I have tried to create many different levels of imagery for the viewer to explore and discover and hopefully to take them to a place they have not been before."


    For more information on Ray Charles White's collaborations with Durham Press, please visit his artist page.