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Photography White

In physics, white is the sum of all the colours. To the human eye, white appears to be the total absence of colour. Amongst artists, white and its many uses in art are continuously evolving and challenging those who would embrace them. Is white, then, a non-colour, or an enhancer of colours? Intangible or material? Absence or excess?

Since Antiquity, white has been appreciated for its symbolic value. In Ancient Greece, where they would paint their statues, it was a sign of incompletion, whereas the Romans believed it showed pomp and imperialist virtue. With the rise of Christianity, white was used in opposition to black in order to emphasise moral dichotomies: the pure, divine white against the darkness. In some cases, however, white was used to show sickness or death, most notably in the pallid representations of the skeletal, crucified Christ.

In the Renaissance white was used to sublimate faces and backgrounds. Da Vinci even based his sfumato technique on the soft transition from light into darkness. Throughout the history of painting, white was considered precious for its ability to reflect light. It attracts the gaze even when used in the tiniest quantities, and illuminates the subject, drawing out stunning contrasts as seen in the works of Rembrandt, or in Vermeer's famous Girl with the Pearl Earring.

With the rise of Impressionism, white was used as the brightest tone amongst shades of grey. While Manet produced canvases which were forerunners to monochromes, including The Reader, which was almost pure white, Monet delivered a stunning gradient of whites whilst recreating the snow at his home in Giverny. The first true white monochrome appeared with the arrival of Malevitch's White Square on a White Background. The artist said 'I have broken the blue boundary of colour limits, and come out into the white'.


Modernists were equally passionate about white and valued it incredibly highly. Miro in particular questioned the status of white on canvases. In his painting Woman, Bird and Star white is in parts boldly painted, but is also distinctive for its absence around the star. Picasso, on the other hand, explored white in conjunction with his famous coloured periods. Piero Manzoni became famous thanks to his 'achromatic' paintings, a series of canvases produced exclusively in shades of white. Moving into the 20th century, white became synonymous with minimalist abstraction. For artists like Kandinsky, white was a cosmic colour, associated with a spiritual search for the absolute, guiding the artists as he seek to express his emotions.  


Today, white remains an ever popular subject. Roman Opalka made his name creating a series of white numbers of a white background, while Daniel Arsham reinvents white walls in galleries by letting his artwork drip down onto them. White is a colour with multiple symbolic interpretations. The colour of divinity or humility; of purity and immaculate, of emptiness and absence, but always colour. If blue has Klein and red has Rothko, it appears that no artist has yet succeeded in fully mastering white – but maybe you'll find them in our selection!

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Fine Art Photographs

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Liu Bolin, Hiding in Italy - Piazza di Spagna, Photography

Liu Bolin

Hiding in Italy - Piazza di Spagna, 2018
26.8 x 35.4 inch


Edmund Sumner, House N, Photography

Edmund Sumner

House N, 2008
16.9 x 23.6 x 0 inch


Edouard de Francisci, El Juell - Serie of Cap de Creuse Cadaqués Spain, Photography

Edouard de Francisci

El Juell - Serie of Cap de Creuse Cadaqués Spain, 2020
19.1 x 23.8 x 0.1 inch


Feng Hatat, Ombre et lumière III, Photography

Feng Hatat

Ombre et lumière III, 2014
18.9 x 12.6 x 0.4 inch


Angeles Peña, Hielos de San Rafael (Patagonia), Photography

Angeles Peña

Hielos de San Rafael (Patagonia), 2015
39 x 27.5 x 0.1 inch


Olivier Le Brun, Mada 2, Photography

Olivier Le Brun

Mada 2, 2000
11.8 x 17.7 inch


Maud Chalard, Lost & Found, Photography

Maud Chalard

Lost & Found, 2019
7.9 x 11.8 x 0.8 inch


Ed Reddon, Banana leaves #10, Photography

Ed Reddon

Banana leaves #10, 2020
8.3 x 5.5 inch


Mihaela Ivanova, Svyatibor, Photography

Mihaela Ivanova

Svyatibor, 2011
19.7 x 19.7 inch


Wang XiaoZhou, Fleur 5, Photography

Wang XiaoZhou

Fleur 5, 2017
11.8 x 15.7 x 0.4 inch


Bogdan Boev, Winter Robin II, Photography

Bogdan Boev

Winter Robin II, 2019
23.6 x 35.4 x 0.1 inch


Samzaï, Au pied des grues, Photography


Au pied des grues, 2019
11.8 x 17.3 x 0.4 inch


José Nicolas, La Sainte Victoire, Photography

José Nicolas

La Sainte Victoire, 2019
8.7 x 8.7 inch


Yuki Onodera, Below Orpheus I. The Missing Person No. 3, Photography

Yuki Onodera

Below Orpheus I. The Missing Person No. 3, 2006
57.9 x 47.2 x 0.2 inch


Richard Melloul, Sammy Davis, Photography

Richard Melloul

Sammy Davis, 1995
70.9 x 47.2 x 1.2 inch


Anthony Mirial, Blessures de guerre, Photography

Anthony Mirial

Blessures de guerre, 2015
49.2 x 33.5 inch


Paula Guagliardi, Wet Cyan I, Photography

Paula Guagliardi

Wet Cyan I, 2020
27.6 x 19.7 x 0.2 inch


Pol Lujan, Chien - Christian Dior, Photography

Pol Lujan

Chien - Christian Dior, 1990
19.7 x 15.7 inch


Slim Aarons, Nice Pool, Photography

Slim Aarons

Nice Pool, 1955
39.4 x 39.4 x 0.2 inch


Strahil Penev, Total Screen II, Photography

Strahil Penev

Total Screen II, 2021
30.7 x 22.4 x 0.4 inch


Sandrine Elberg, Meteor / asteroid, Photography

Sandrine Elberg

Meteor / asteroid, 2017
15.7 x 11.8 x 0.8 inch


Ivaylo Zafirov, Black-Headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) and Mediterranean Gulls (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus), Photography

Ivaylo Zafirov

Black-Headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) and Mediterranean Gulls (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus), 2019
18.1 x 27.6 inch


Tali Amitai-Tabib, Dalia, Photography

Tali Amitai-Tabib

Dalia, 2017
11.8 x 15.7 x 0.8 inch


Gilberto Perin, Tuneis, Photography

Gilberto Perin

Tuneis, 2012
15.7 x 23.6 inch


Michael Townsend, Doho, Photography

Michael Townsend

Doho, 2017
47.2 x 31.5 inch


Our recommendations Xavier-Alexandre Pons, Nouveau départ, Photography

Xavier-Alexandre Pons

Nouveau départ, 1998
39.4 x 39.4 x 0.4 inch


André de Dienes, Marilyn. La sortie de bain. (1945), Photography

André de Dienes

Marilyn. La sortie de bain. (1945), 2006
20.1 x 16.1 inch


Bernard Plossu, Sans titre 3, Photography

Bernard Plossu

Sans titre 3, 1988
5.1 x 7.1 inch


Marine Kerbidi, Vue du Barachois, Photography

Marine Kerbidi

Vue du Barachois, 2016
23.6 x 35.4 x 0.4 inch


Arkadiy Kurta, Supplicant, Photography

Arkadiy Kurta

Supplicant, 2016
20 x 16 inch


Dina Goldstein, Elohim, Photography

Dina Goldstein

Elohim, 2014
24.8 x 31.9 x 0.4 inch


Philippe Bonan, Speedy Graphito, Photography

Philippe Bonan

Speedy Graphito, 2007
19.7 x 15.7 inch


Warwick Saint, Neck Tattoo, Photography

Warwick Saint

Neck Tattoo, 2010
31 x 25 inch


Mark Fisher, Sympathy for the Devil, Photography

Mark Fisher

Sympathy for the Devil, 2010
35.4 x 23.6 inch


César Ancelle-Hansen, Beach Bummers, Photography

César Ancelle-Hansen

Beach Bummers, 2008
11.8 x 17.7 inch


Javier Rey, Mirages #12, Photography

Javier Rey

Mirages #12, 2020
29.5 x 21.7 inch


Jean-Paul Veison Marcelli, E3, Photography

Jean-Paul Veison Marcelli

E3, 2018
15.7 x 23.6 x 0.1 inch


Michael Kenna, Torii Hokaido, Photography

Michael Kenna

Torii Hokaido, 1989
9.8 x 7.9 x 1.2 inch


Tero Repo, Virgin Spine, Photography

Tero Repo

Virgin Spine, 2011
47.2 x 31.5 inch


John French, Petal hat, Photography

John French

Petal hat, 2020
60 x 40 inch


Our recommendations Petros Chrisostomou, Myriad (10-61 Jackson Avenue), Photography

Petros Chrisostomou

Myriad (10-61 Jackson Avenue), 2013
39.4 x 31.5 x 1.2 inch


Our recommendations Thomas Jorion, Intersticio, Photography

Thomas Jorion

Intersticio, 2015
47.2 x 37.8 x 0.8 inch


Chema Madoz, Untitled, Photography

Chema Madoz

Untitled, 2003
19.7 x 19.7 x 0.8 inch


Arnaud Ele, Ambre, Photography

Arnaud Ele

Ambre, 2019
16.5 x 11.7 x 0.1 inch


Elliott Erwitt, Untitled, Photography

Elliott Erwitt

Untitled, 2000
15.7 x 22.4 x 0.4 inch


Vladimir Bazan, New York, Photography

Vladimir Bazan

New York, 2010
17.3 x 11 inch


Anaïs Legeay, Lines 1, Photography

Anaïs Legeay

Lines 1, 2014
11.8 x 15.7 x 1.2 inch


Dominique Zoladz, Sans titre, Photography

Dominique Zoladz

Sans titre, 2017
39.4 x 31.5 x 0.8 inch


Olive Santaoloria, Série "Le Léviathan" - 11, Photography

Olive Santaoloria

Série "Le Léviathan" - 11, 2015
44.5 x 29.5 x 0.8 inch


Geraldo Pestalozzi, Rebolada, Photography

Geraldo Pestalozzi

Rebolada, 2016
15.7 x 11.7 x 0.1 inch


Hannibal Renberg, Les Jumelles au chapeau, Photography

Hannibal Renberg

Les Jumelles au chapeau, 2017
15.4 x 15.4 inch


Lorenz Holder, Northern Bikers, Photography

Lorenz Holder

Northern Bikers, 2010
47.2 x 31.5 inch


Fabian Albertini, Untitled, Photography

Fabian Albertini

Untitled, 2017
23.6 x 23.6 x 1.6 inch


Jean-Léonard Polo, Iron lady, Photography

Jean-Léonard Polo

Iron lady, 2018
29.5 x 49.2 inch


Charles Xelot, Pin hiver 1, Photography

Charles Xelot

Pin hiver 1, 2012
49.2 x 63 x 1.2 inch


Herbert Ponting, British Antarctic Expedition, Photography

Herbert Ponting

British Antarctic Expedition, 2020
40 x 30 inch


Marina Sersale, His Hand, Photography

Marina Sersale

His Hand, 2015
7.9 x 7.9 inch


Clément Reisky, Eléphant, Photography

Clément Reisky

Eléphant, 2013
35.4 x 23.6 x 1.2 inch


Paula Coderch, Lonely mall, Photography

Paula Coderch

Lonely mall, 2017
15.7 x 23.6 x 0 inch


Darryll Schiff, Sonata, Photography

Darryll Schiff

Sonata, 2018
26.5 x 32 inch


Ramon Cornadó, Diàlegs amb la natura 01, Photography

Ramon Cornadó

Diàlegs amb la natura 01, 2018
16.9 x 11.4 inch


Luigi Visconti, Croix, Photography

Luigi Visconti

Croix, 2017
43.3 x 55.1 x 0.2 inch


Martin Munkacsi, Untitled (Church Spire, Seville), Photography

Martin Munkacsi

Untitled (Church Spire, Seville), 1930
14.88 x 11.75 inch


Laurent Bertrais, Dualité #06, Photography

Laurent Bertrais

Dualité #06, 2015
15.7 x 23.6 inch


60 Artworks on 2487

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