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(1923 – 2013), USA

Saul Leiter Biography

Although Edward Steichen exhibited some of Saul Leiter's colour photographs at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953, for forty years afterwards they remained virtually unknown to the art world. Leiter moved to New York in 1946 intending to be a painter and through his friendship with the abstract expressionist Richard Pousette-Dart he quickly recognised 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.

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The semi-mythical notion of the 'New York street photographer' was born at the same time, in the late-1940s. But Leiter's sensibility—comparable to the European intimism of Bonnard, a painter he greatly admires—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 alternative 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.

None of Leiter's contemporaries, with the single and partial exception of Helen Levitt, assembled a comparable body of work in colour. The lyricism and intensity of his vision come into fullest play in his eloquent handling of colour: to the rapid recording of the spontaneous unfolding of life on the street, Leiter adds an unconventional sense of form and a brilliantly improvisational, and frequently almost abstract, use of found colours and tones. Leiter's visual language of fragmentation, ambiguity and contingency is evoked in Saul Leiter: Early Color by one hundred subtle, painterly images that stretched the boundaries of photography in the second half of the twentieth-century.

Text courtesy Gallery Fifty One.

Harry Gruyaert, France, Cayeux-sur-Mer (1991) (detail). Archival pigment print. 53 x 80 cm. Courtesy Gallery Fifty One. 

Saul Leiter Featured Artworks

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Jay in the Bathtub by Saul Leiter contemporary artwork
Saul LeiterJay in the Bathtub, c. 1957Gelatin silver print
23 x 16 cm
Gallery Fifty One Enquire about this work
Untitled (hand, nude) by Saul Leiter contemporary artwork
Saul LeiterUntitled (hand, nude)Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1970s
21 x 13 cm
Gallery Fifty One Enquire about this work
Street Scene, New York by Saul Leiter contemporary artwork
Saul LeiterStreet Scene, New York, 1958Chromogenic print, printed later
50 x 40 cm
Gallery Fifty One Enquire about this work
Shopper by Saul Leiter contemporary artwork
Saul LeiterShopper, 1953Chromogenic print, printed later
50 x 40 cm
Gallery Fifty One Enquire about this work
Red Umbrella by Saul Leiter contemporary artwork
Saul LeiterRed Umbrella, 1957Chromogenic print, printed later
35 x 28 cm
Gallery Fifty One Enquire about this work
Foot on El by Saul Leiter contemporary artwork
Saul LeiterFoot on El, 1954Chromogenic print, printed later
35 x 28 cm
Gallery Fifty One Enquire about this work
Untitled (Jay, nude) by Saul Leiter contemporary artwork
Saul LeiterUntitled (Jay, nude)Gelatin silver print, printed circa 1970s
25 x 20 cm
Gallery Fifty One Enquire about this work
Green Light Against Grey, New York by Saul Leiter contemporary artwork
Saul LeiterGreen Light Against Grey, New York, c. 1955Chromogenic print, printed later
35 x 28 cm
Gallery Fifty One Enquire about this work

Saul Leiter Current & Recent Exhibitions

Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, ART BRUSSELS @ FIFTY ONE at Gallery Fifty One, Antwerp
Open Now
20 May–17 July 2020 Group Exhibition ART BRUSSELS @ FIFTY ONE Gallery Fifty One
Contemporary art exhibition, Saul Leiter, LANESVILLE at Gallery Fifty One Too, Antwerp
Closed
7 May–29 June 2019 Saul Leiter LANESVILLE Gallery Fifty One Too
Contemporary art exhibition, Saul Leiter, East 10th Street at Gallery Fifty One, Antwerp
Closed
7 May–29 June 2019 Saul Leiter East 10th Street Gallery Fifty One

Saul Leiter Represented By

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