Photographs by Saul Leiter. Introduction by Martin Harrison.
Steidl / Howard Greenberg Gallery, Gottingen, 2011. 176 pp., 100 color illustrations, 7¾x7¾".
Now in its fourth edition.
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 20th century.