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Photo by Boris Svietovsky

Aperture number 80, the 1978 Minor White Issue opens up with the following phrase “No matter what role we are in-photographer, beholder, critic-inducing silence in ourselves, we are given to see from a sacred place.  From that place the sacredness of everything may be seen.( Minor White 1908-1976, Co-Founder and Editor of Aperture Magazine).

Boris Svietovsky, the subject of this short post surely understood this. We know that by just looking at some of the photographs that are in the only monograph on his work published coincidentally also in 1978. Written by Herbert A. Kenny with a foreword by Robert S. Taylor (Art critic Boston Globe).


The title is The Secret of the Rocks, The Boris Photographs of the Gloucester Rocks. The softcover publication measures 15 inches x 9 inches with 11 pages of text and 30 black and white photographs.

img434Boris Svietovsky (1894-1972) was born in the Ukraine and came to Boston as a 15 year old where he went to work for the master photographer Henry Havelock Pierce who specialized in portraiture. Svietovsky in his later years became a master of the Gum Print. A sacred place for Svietovsky was his rocks that he photographed over and over again finding faces where to most men there were none and where granite coast, salt water and the slowly changing weather hammered out sacred spaces and induced the photographer to the silence within. I am almost sure that Minor White who also photographed nature and rocks and Svietovsky would have gotten along quite fine, watching the ever changing clouds along the waterline in Gloucester, Massachusetts.