“I may be old-fashioned. But I believe there is such a thing as a search for beauty – a delight in the nice things in the world. And I don’t think one should have to apologize for it.”
– Saul Leiter
Saul Leiter (1923-2013) found warmth in the rain and snow falling on New York City.
Leiter was 23 when he left his native Pittsburgh for New York. The Rabbi’s son schooled in Jewish law and history found his metier in photography. His work was spotted by Edward Steichen, who included 23 of Leiter’s photographs in Always the Young Stranger at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953 and 20 of Leiter’s colour images in the 1957 MoMA conference Experimental Photography in Color. And as far as fame goes that was largely it until many years later.
“I spent a great deal of my life being ignored,” he told the New Yorker’s Vince Aletti. “I was always very happy that way. Being ignored is a great privilege. That is how I think I learned to see what others do not see and to react to situations differently. I simply looked at the world, not really prepared for anything.” But fame did arrive.
The Saul Leiter Foundation tells us:
In the early 1980s Leiter was faced with financial difficulties that forced the closure of his Fifth Avenue studio. For the next two decades he lived and worked virtually unknown. In 2006, with the help of the art historian Martin Harrison and Howard Greenberg Gallery, the groundbreaking monograph Saul Leiter: Early Color was published by Gerhard Steidl in Germany. What Leiter called his “little book” became an overnight sensation with worldwide distribution and firmly established the artist as an early pioneer in the history of color photography.
“There are the things that are out in the open and then there are the things that are hidden, and life has more to do, the real world has more to do with what is hidden, maybe. You think?”
– Saul Leiter in In No Great Hurry, a film by Tomas Leach