Saul Leiter

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Saul Leiter
Saul leiter.jpg
Born (1923-12-03)December 3, 1923
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died November 26, 2013(2013-11-26) (aged 89)
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 of photography.[1]:259 His work is in the collections of many prestigious public and private collections.

Life and work[edit]

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 his first camera at age 12.[2] 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.[2] 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.[1]:259

Leiter worked as a fashion photographer for the next 20 years and was published in Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen, and Nova. In the late 1950s the art director Henry Wolf published Leiter’s color fashion work in Esquire and later in Harper’s Bazaar.

Edward Steichen included Leiter’s black and white photographs in the exhibition Always the Young Stranger at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953. Leiter’s work is featured prominently in Jane Livingston’s book The New York School (1992)[1] and in Martin Harrison’s Appearances: Fashion Photography since 1945 (1991). In 2008, The Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris mounted Leiter’s first museum exhibition in Europe with an accompanying catalog.

Leiter is the subject of a 2012 feature-length documentary In No Great Hurry - 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter, directed and produced by Tomas Leach.[3] Leiter is a featured subject, among others, in the documentary film Tracing Outlines (2015) by 2nd State Productions.

Martin Harrison, editor and author of Saul Leiter Early Color (2006),[4] 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."

Early Color book cover

Leiter died on 26 November 2013[5] in New York City.[6] He is represented in New York by the Howard Greenberg Gallery.[7]


  • Early Color. Introduction by Martin Harrison.
  • Saul Leiter.
  • Early Black and White.
    • Göttingen: Steidl, 2008.
    • Göttingen: Steidl; Howard Greenberg Gallery, 2014. ISBN 978-3865214133. Two volumes, boxed edition. By Max Kozloff, edited by Howard Greenberg and Bob Shamis with the assistance of Margit Erb, with an additional essay by Jane Livingston.
  • Saul Leiter. Göttingen: Steidl, 2008. ISBN 9783865216625. Preface by Agnès Sire.
  • Photographs and Works on Paper. Antwerp: Fifty One Publication, 2011.
  • Here's more, why not?. Antwerp: Fifty One Publication, 2013.


Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

  • 1944: Ten Thirty Gallery, Cleveland.
  • 1945: The Outlines Gallery, Pittsburgh.
  • 1947: Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH.
  • 1950s: Tanager Gallery, New York.
  • 1954: Emerging Talent. Curated by Clement Greenberg. Samuel Koontz Gallery, New York.
  • 1972: Midtown Y, New York.
  • 1984: Gallery Lafayette, New York.
  • 1985: Gallery Lafayette, New York.
  • 1993: Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.
  • 1994: Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.
  • 1997: Saul Leiter, In Color. Martha Schneider Gallery, Chicago.
  • 1997: Saul Leiter, In Color. Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.
  • 2004: Saul Leiter, In Color. Staton Greenberg Gallery, Santa Barbara.
  • 2005: Saul Leiter, Early Color. Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.
  • 2006: The Fashion Photographs of Saul Leiter, Festival of Fashion Photography, Hyères, France.
  • 2006: Saul Leiter, Color, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp.
  • 2006: In Living Color, Photographs by Saul Leiter, Milwaukee Art Museum.
  • 2007: Saul Leiter, Early Color, University of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor.
  • 2008: Saul Leiter, Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris.
  • 2008: Saul Leiter, Faggionato Fine Arts, London.
  • 2008: Saul Leiter, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.
  • 2008: Saul Leiter, Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta.
  • 2008: Saul Leiter, Galleria C arla Sozzani, Milan.
  • 2008: Saul Leiter, Foundation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris.
  • 2009: Saul Leiter, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp.
  • 2010: Saul Leiter, Mois de la Foto, Paris.
  • 2011: Saul Leiter, New York Reflections, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam.
  • 2011: Saul Leiter, Early Color, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne
  • 2011: Saul Leiter, Photographs and works on paper, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp.
  • 2012: Saul Leiter, Retrospective, Deichtorhallen Hamburg.
  • 2013: Saul Leiter, Here's more, why not, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp.
  • 2013: Saul Leiter, Black & white, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp.
  • 2013: Saul Leiter, Kunst Haus Wien.
  • 2015: Homage to Saul Leiter, Fifty One gallery, Antwerp.

Selected group exhibitions[edit]

  • 1947: Abstract and Surrealist Art. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.
  • 1953: Always the Young Stranger. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  • 1953: Contemporary Photography. Tokyo Museum, Tokyo.
  • 1958: Photographs from the Museum Collection. Museum of Modern Art, New York.
  • 1980: Fashion Photographers. Hastings/Rinhart Galleries, New York.
  • 1991: Appearances: Fashion Photography Since 1945. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
  • 1994: The New York School. Dean Jensen Gallery, Milwaukee.
  • 1995: By Night. Cartier Foundation, Paris.
  • 1996: Delirium. Ricco/Maresca Gallery, New York.
  • 1998: Look at Me, Fashion and Photography in Britain 1960 to the Present, British Council European Touring Exhibition.
  • 2002: The Whitney Museum of American Art, 27 June 27–22 September 2002.
  • 2002: Visions from America: Photographs from the Whitney Museum of American Art 1940-2001.
  • 2002: New York Scene: Ted Croner, Sid Grossman, Saul Leiter and Leon Levinstein. Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.
  • 2002: New York: Capital of Photography. The Jewish Museum, New York.
  • 2006: The Streets of New York, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
  • 2006: Color Photography, Amon Carter Museum, Texas.
  • 2007: When Color Was New, Art Institute of Chicago.
  • 2007: Mapping the City. Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
  • 2007: Pieces of a City. Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.


Leiter's work is held in the following public collections:


  1. ^ a b c Jane Livingston, The New York School: Photographs 1936–1963 (New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1992; ISBN 1-55670-239-6).
  2. ^ a b Sire, Agnès. Saul Leiter, Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany 2008.
  3. ^ O'Hagan, Sean (29 November 2013). "Saul Leiter obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2013. 
  4. ^ Harrison, Martin. Saul Leiter Early Color.
  5. ^ "Photographer Saul Leiter has died". British Journal of Photography. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Howard Greenberg Gallery: Representing Photography by Allen Ginsberg, Bruce Davidson, Edward Steichen, Eikoh Hosoe, Frank Gohlke, Gordon Parks, Imogen Cunningham, Kenro Izu, ...

External links[edit]