Saul Leiter by Pierre Belhassen
December 3, 1923|
|Died||November 26, 2013
New York City, New York
|Occupation||Photographer and painter|
Saul Leiter (December 3, 1923 – November 26, 2013) was 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 Leiter to pursue photography and he was soon taking black and white pictures with a 35 mm Leica, which he acquired for a few Eugene Smith prints. 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. He died on the 26th of November 2013.
The feature-length documentary In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life With Saul Leiter (2012), directed and produced by Tomas Leach, was released in 2012.
Leiter’s earliest black and white photographs show an extraordinary affinity for the medium, and by 1948 he began to experiment in color. Edward Steichen included Leiter’s black and white photographs in the exhibition Always the Young Stranger at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953. In the late 1950s the art director Henry Wolf published Leiter’s color fashion work in Esquire and later in Harper’s Bazaar. Leiter continued to work as a fashion photographer for the next 20 years and was published in Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen, and Nova.
Leiter has made an enormous and unique contribution to photography. His abstracted forms and radically innovative compositions have a painterly quality that stands out among the work of his New York School contemporaries. Perhaps this is because Leiter has continued through the years to work as both a photographer and painter. His painterly sensibility reaches fruition in his painted photographs of nudes on which he has actually applied layers of gouache and watercolor.
Martin Harrison, editor and author of Saul Leiter Early Color, writes, "Leiter’s sensibility . . . placed him outside the visceral confrontations with urban anxiety associated with photographers such as Robert Frank or William Klein. Instead, for him the camera provided an alternate way of seeing, of framing events and interpreting reality. He sought out moments of quiet humanity in the Manhattan maelstrom, forging a unique urban pastoral from the most unlikely of circumstances."
Leiter’s work is featured prominently in Jane Livingston’s book The New York School and in Martin Harrison’s Appearances: Fashion Photography since 1945. His work is in the collections of many prestigious public and private collections. In 2008, The Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris mounted Leiter’s first museum exhibition in Europe with an accompanying catalog. Leiter is represented in New York by the Howard Greenberg Gallery
Leiter is the subject of a 2013 documentary 'In No Great Hurry - 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter'. Leiter is a featured subject in the documentary film 'Tracing Outlines' by 2nd State Productions. He died in New York City in 2013.
"I must admit that I am not a member of the ugly school. I have a great regard for certain notions of beauty even though to some it is an old fashioned idea. Some photographers think that by taking pictures of human misery, they are addressing a serious problem. I do not think that misery is more profound than happiness."
"In order to build a career and to be successful, one has to be determined. One has to be ambitious. I much prefer to drink coffee, listen to music and to paint when I feel like it."
Selected solo exhibitions
|2013||Saul Leiter, Kunst Haus Wien|
|Saul Leiter, Black & white, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp|
|Saul Leiter, Here's more, why not, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp|
|2012||Saul Leiter, Retrospective, Deichtorhallen Hamburg|
|2011||Saul Leiter, Photographs and works on paper, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp|
|Saul Leiter: New York Reflections, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam|
|2010||Saul Leiter, Mois de la Foto, Paris|
|2009||Saul Leiter, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp|
|2008||Saul Leiter, Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris|
|Saul Leiter, Galleria C arla Sozzani, Milan|
|Saul Leiter, Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta|
|Saul Leiter, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York|
|Saul Leiter, Faggionato Fine Arts, London|
|Saul Leiter, Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris|
|2007||Saul Leiter, Early Color, University of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor|
|2006||In Living Color, Photographs by Saul Leiter, Milwaukee Art Museum|
|Saul Leiter, Color, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp|
|The Fashion Photographs of Saul Leiter, Festival of Fashion Photography, Hyères, France|
|2005||Saul Leiter, Early Color. Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York|
|2004||Saul Leiter, In Color. Staton Greenberg Gallery, Santa Barbara|
|1997||Saul Leiter, In Color. Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York|
|Saul Leiter, In Color. Martha Schneider Gallery, Chicago|
|1994||Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York|
|1993||Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York|
|1985||Gallery Lafayette, New York|
|1984||Gallery Lafayette, New York|
|1972||Midtown Y, New York|
|1954||Emerging Talent. Curated by Clement Greenberg. Samuel Koontz Gallery, New York|
|1950s||Tanager Gallery, New York|
|1947||Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH|
|1945||The Outlines Gallery, Pittsburgh|
|1944||Ten Thirty Gallery, Cleveland|
Selected group exhibitions
|2007||Pieces of a City. Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York|
|Mapping the City. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam|
|When Color Was New, Art Institute of Chicago|
|2006||Color Photography, Amon Carter Museum, Texas|
|The Streets of New York, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.|
|2002||New York: Capital of Photography. The Jewish Museum, New York|
|New York Scene: Ted Croner, Sid Grossman, Saul Leiter and Leon Levinstein. Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York|
|Visions from America: Photographs from the Whitney Museum of American Art 1940-2001|
|The Whitney Museum of American Art, June 27-September 22|
|1998||Look at Me, Fashion and Photography in Britain 1960 to the Present British Council European Touring Exhibition|
|1996||Delirium. Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York|
|1995||By Night. Cartier Foundation, Paris|
|1994||The New York School. Dean Jensen Gallery, Milwaukee|
|1991||Appearances: Fashion Photography Since 1945. Victoria and Albert Museum, London|
|1980||Fashion Photographers. Hastings/Rinhart Galleries, New York|
|1958||Photographs from the Museum Collection. Museum of Modern Art, New York|
|1953||Contemporary Photography. Tokyo Museum, Tokyo|
|Always the Young Stranger. Museum of Modern Art, New York|
|1947||Abstract and Surrealist Art. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago|
- Aletti, Vince. "Shadows and Fog," The Village Voice. February 9, 1993, p. 79.
- Best, Isabel. "Saul Man," British Journal of Photography. August 2006, pp. 13–15.
- Coleman, A.D. "Letter From: New York, No.41," PhotoMetro. April, 1993, p. 28.
- Coleman, A.D. "Focusing on a Lesser-Known Cohort of Avedon and Arbus," The New York Observer. February 8, 1993.
- Cowley, Rob. "Saul Leiter’s World," Infinity. September 1961, pp. 13–15.
- Gottlieb, Jane. "In Living Color, The unassuming Saul Leiter finally and reluctantly, steps into the limelight," Photo District News, January 2007, pp. 37–39.
- Harrison, Martin. Appearances: Fashion Photography Since 1945. London: Rizzoli, 1991.
- Harrison, Martin. "Saul Leiter Rediscovered," The Correspondent Magazine. November 12, 1989, pp. 14–20.
- Hostetler, Lisa. "In Living Color: Photographs by Saul Leiter," 2006, Milwaukee Art Museum. Exhibition Gallery Guide.
- Koetzle, Michael. "Saul Leiter: Color has its own Qualities," Leica World. January, 2000.
- Kozloff, Max. "Saul Leiter’s Elegance," Matador. Volume J. Spring 2007.
- Livingston, Jane. The New York School: Photographs 1936-1963. New York: Stuart, Tabori and Chang, 1992.
- Loke, Margarett. "Saul Leiter, Howard Greenberg Gallery," Artnews. September, 1993, p. 174.
- Maine, Stephen. "Color Pioneer," Art in America. April, 2006, pp. 78–79
- Meyers, William. "When the World Stopped Being Black & White," The New York Sun. December 22, 2005.
- Roberts, Pamela. "A Century of Colour Photography: From the Autochrome to the Digital Age," Andre Deutsch, London, 2007.
- Smith, Roberta. "Saul Leiter: Early Color," The New York Times. December 30, 2005. Weekend Arts.
- Tallmer, Jerry. "Still Time to Develop," The New York Post. January 29, 1993
- Woodward, Richard B. "Ten Undervalued Masters of Photography," Art&Auction. February 2006.
- Harrison, Martin. Saul Leiter, Early Color. Göttingen: Steidl, 2006.
- Delpire, Robert. Saul Leiter. Paris: Photo Poche, 2007.
- Harrison, Martin. Saul Leiter, Early Black and White. Göttingen: Steidl, 2008.
- Sire, Agnès. Saul Leiter. Göttingen: Steidl, 2008.
- "Saul Leiter: photographs and works on paper", Fifty One Publication, 2011.
- "Here's more, why not?", Fifty One Publication, 2013.
Selected public collections
- The Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, Andover
- The Albertina Museum, Vienna
- The Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth
- The Art Institute of Chicago
- The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore
- The Milwaukee Art Museum
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
- The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
- The Museum of Modern Art, New York
- The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
- The St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis
- The Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin,
- The Victoria & Albert Museum, London
- The Whitney Museum of American Arts, New York
- Livingston, Jane (1992) The New York School: Photographs, 1936-1963, Steward Tabori & Chang
- Sire, Agnès. Saul Leiter, Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany 2008.
- "Photographer Saul Leiter has died". British Journal of Photography.
- O'Hagan, Sean (29 November 2013). "Saul Leiter obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2013. ""What makes anyone think that I'm any good?" he asked Tomas Leach, who directed the feature-length documentary In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life With Saul Leiter (2012)."
- Van Voorhees, Roger (November 2009). "Saul Leiter: Paintings". The Brooklyn Rail.
- Harrison, Martin. Saul Leiter Early Color.
- Howard Greenberg Gallery: Representing Photography by Allen Ginsberg, Bruce Davidson, Edward Steichen, Eikoh Hosoe, Frank Gohlke, Gordon Parks, Imogen Cunningham, Kenro Izu, ...
- Saul Leiter interview at Photographers Speak
- 16 photographs by Saul Leiter
- In No Great Hurry, a feature documentary about Saul Leiter by Tomas Leach