Saul Leiter – Photographs and works on paper

“Every year I visit Saul Leiter in his apartment in the East Village in Manhattan. We usually sit in front of a huge window in his living room. His apartment is packed, full of photographs and paintings, piles of books and other objects accumulated over time. I love his work as much as I do the person.

The cause of this neglect is undoubtedly the lack of self-promotion by the artist, but some missed opportunities must be added: whether a letter remained unopened during thirty years and hidden inside a book, or the fact that the Photo League closed its doors in 1951 just before the photographer was scheduled to exhibit his work alongside that of Robert Frank.

By practicing painting in tandem with photography throughout his career, Saul Leiter altered photography by his exquisite vision. First, he gives up the centered perspective. He compresses the spatial dynamic and puts a priori insignificant elements in the foreground that almost obstruct the sight: canopies, shutters, deep shadows, etc. An insignificant object becomes the central focus. Another characteristic of his style is the use of reflections. For example, he captures the reflections of a wall’s surface and of some bystanders in a window all-together in one composition.

This unexpected marriage reveals an unexpected image. In this way, a simple detail becomes a powerful visual effect. It is the same with his use of fog, snow or rain. Through the tangle of planes, Leiter creates a new visual rhythm. He is a true director of the revitalization of the formal beauty.
Furthermore, he uses a muted color palette. His unsaturated tonalities are indicative of Johannes Vermeer’s influence. Obtaining these pastel-evaporating colors is made possible by the use of obsolete color film.
The talent of Saul Leiter is that he “composes” in photography in the same way he composes his gouaches. Although he claims to practice always freely in his photography, it is obvious that there is a conscious or unconscious influence of painting on his photographs.”

– Roger Szmulewicz


Deze publicaties werden samengesteld naar aanleiding van twee afzonderlijke tentoonstellingen van Saul Leiter in Gallery FIFTY ONE. Saul Leiter (1923) woont in New York waar hij nog steeds schildert en fotografeert. Zijn bekendheid blijft groeien.


Gallery 51

Saul Leiter