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Saul Leiter

American Photographer | Born: 1923 - Died: 2013

Saul Leiter is an American photographer and painter whose early work in the 1940s and 1950s was an important contribution to what came to be recognized as The New York School. Saul Leiter was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father was a well known Talmud scholar and Saul studied to become a Rabbi. His mother gave him a Detrola camera at age 12. At age 23, he left theology school and moved to New York City to become an artist. He had developed an early interest in painting and was fortunate to meet the Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart. Pousette-Dart and W. Eugene Smith encouraged Saul to pursue photography and he was soon taking black and white pictures with a 35 mm Leica, which he acquired by exchanging a few Eugene Smith prints for it. In 1948, he started taking color photographs. He began associating with other contemporary photographers such as Robert Frank and Diane Arbus and helped form what Jane Livingston has termed The New York School of photographers during the 1940s and 1950s.

Source: Wikipedia


Leiter’s first exhibition of color photography was held in the 1950s at the Artist's Club, a meeting place for many of the Abstract Expressionist painters of that time. Edward Steichen included twenty-three of Leiter's black and white photographs in the seminal 1953 exhibition “Always the Young Stranger” at the Museum of Modern Art; he also included twenty of Leiter’s color images in the 1957 MoMA conference “Experimental Photography in Color.” In the late 1950s, the art director Henry Wolf published Leiter's color fashion work in Esquire and later in Harper's Bazaar. However, over the next four decades, Leiter’s noncommercial work remained virtually unknown to the wider art world. He continued to work as a fashion photographer through the 1970s, contributing to such publications as in Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen, and Nova.

Leiter is now held to be a pioneer of early color photography, and is noted as one of the outstanding figures in post-war photography. After several exhibitions at Howard Greenberg Gallery throughout the 1990s, Leiter’s work experienced a surge of popularity after a monograph, Early Color, was published by Steidl in 2006. Early Color was followed by a series of monographs and international exhibitions highlighting the depth and scope of his work in photography and painting, beginning with “In Living Color” (2006), his first major retrospective at the Milwaukee Museum of Art. Leiter was the subject of several solo shows thereafter, including the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris; the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam; Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne; and Diechtorhallen, Hamburg.

Source: Howard Greenberg Gallery

In My Room
Author: Saul Leiter
Publisher: Steidl
Year: 2018 - Pages: 192
The fruit of fantastic recent discoveries from Saul Leiter's vast archive, In My Room provides an in-depth study of the nude, through intimate photographs of the women Leiter knew. Showing deeply personal interior spaces, often illuminated by the lush natural light of the artist's studio in New York City's East Village, these black-and-white images reveal a unique type of collaboration between Leiter and his subjects. In the 1970s Leiter planned to make a book of nudes, but the project was never realized in his lifetime. Now, we get a first-time look at this body of work, which was begun on Leiter's arrival in New York in 1946 and honed over the next two decades. Leiter, who was also a painter, allows abstract elements into the photographs and often shows the influence of his favorite artists, including Bonnard, Vuillard and Matisse. Leiter, who painted and took pictures prolifically up to his death, worked in relative obscurity until he entered his eighties. He preferred to be left alone, and resisted any type of explanation or analysis of his work. With In My Room, Leiter ushers viewers into his private world while retaining his strong sense of mystery.
Saul Leiter was born in Pittsburgh in 1923. In 1946 he moved to New York to become a painter, but was encouraged to pursue photography by the photographic experimentation and influence of his friend, the Abstract Expressionist Richard Pousette-Dart. Leiter subsequently enjoyed a successful career as a fashion photographer spanning three decades, and his images were published in magazines such as Esquire, Harper's Bazaar, Elle and British Vogue. His work is held in many prestigious private and public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum. Leiter died in November 2013.
 
Saul Leiter: Here
Author: Saul Leiter
Publisher: Fifty One
Year: 2013 - Pages: 78
"Saul Leiter's apartment is filled with memories, photographs and paintings of people he knew and the people he lived with but Saul hasn't found the answers yet to questions as to why he has done what he did. Probably because he enjoyed doing it and that's about it. Every time I enter his place this is what strikes me: this apartment filled with his life. It moves me and touches me just the like man living there does. On the occasion of the gallery's fourth solo show, once again, I could'n resist making a catalogue. Saul has therefore been digging in his archive and selected 34 unpublished photographs for which I'm very grateful" - from the introduction by Roger Szmulewicz, Gallery owner. New small volume (21x15) with 34 previously unpublished colour images.
 
Mountain Light: In Search of the Dynamic Landscape
Author: Galen Rowell
Publisher: Sierra Club Books
Year: 2012 - Pages: 240
No photographer was more deeply engaged with the transformative interaction of light and landscape than Galen Rowell. The preeminent outdoor photographer of his time, he spent his career chasing magic light in the high places of the planet. Into this landmark volume he poured all his insights gleaned from those adventures, assembling galleries of his most memorable images to illustrate them. The photographs are arranged in eight exhibits according to the many qualities of light found in mountain environments. Rowell also shares the stories that went into their creation—what he was after and how he achieved it, from preparation and "previsualizing" to the physical challenges of being in the right place at exactly the right time. In addition to explaining how he worked with optical phenomena and natural light, the book traces his development as a photographer—in terms of both philosophy and technique—and recounts his adventures in some of the most remote, dangerous, and beautiful places on Earth.
 
Saul Leiter: Early Black and White
Author: Saul Leiter, Martin Harrison
Publisher: Steidl
Year: 2009 - Pages: 388
The distinctive iconography of Saul Leiter’s early black and white photographs stems from his profound response to the dynamic street life of New York City in the late 1940s and 50s. While this technique borrowed aspects of the photodocumentary, Leiter’s imagery was more shaped by his highly individual reactions to the people and places he encountered. Like a Magic Realist with a camera, Leiter absorbed the mystery of the city and poignant human experiences. Together with Early Color, also published by Steidl, Early Black and White shows the impressive range of Leiter’s early photography.
 
Saul Leiter: Early Color
Author: Saul Leiter
Publisher: Steidl Verlaq
Year: 2008 - Pages: 160
Although Edward Steichen exhibited some of Saul Leiter's color photographs at The Museum of Modern Art in 1953, for 40 years afterward they remained virtually unknown to the art world. Saul Leiter: Early Color provides the first opportunity to see a comprehensive presentation of images by one of photography's great originals. Leiter moved to New York in 1946 intending to be a painter, but through his friendship with the Abstract Expressionist Richard Pousette-Dart, he quickly recognized the creative potential of photography. Though he continued to paint, exhibiting alongside Philip Guston and Willem de Kooning, Leiter's camera became--like an extension of his arm and mind--an ever-present interpreter of life in the metropolis. He sought out moments of quiet humanity in the Manhattan maelstrom, forging a unique urban pastoral from the most unlikely of circumstances. The lyricism and intensity of his vision come into fullest play in his eloquent handling of color unequaled by his contemporaries. Leiter's visual language of fragmentation, ambiguity and contingency is evoked by these 100 subtle, painterly images that stretched the boundaries of photography in the second half of the twentieth century.
 
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