"I must admit that I am not a member of the ugly school. I have a great regard for certain notions of beauty even though to some it is an old fashioned idea. Some photographers think that by taking pictures of human misery, they are addressing a serious problem. I do not think that misery is more profound than happiness"
from Saul Leiter (2008) by Agnès Sire
“Leiter was perhaps the most interesting of the fifties color photographers in his use of form…. The over-riding emotion in his work is a stillness, tenderness, and grace that is at odds with the mad rush of New York street life.” —The New Yorker
"Leiter might be regarded as the master of the “indecisive” moment – those in-between moments when nothing of much importance seems to be happening but which resonate with a profound if understated sense of interior drama. Leiter is one of photography’s underrated masters, and a living testament to the maxim that the greatest artists are often the most humble and self-deprecating."—Dean Brierly
"It’s quite possible that my work represents a search for beauty in the most prosaic and ordinary places. One doesn’t have to be in some faraway dreamland in order to find beauty. I realize that the search for beauty is not highly popular these days. Agony, misery and wretchedness, now these are worth perusing."
"I don’t have a philosophy. I have a camera. I look into the camera and take pictures. My photographs are the tiniest part of what I see that could be photographed. They are fragments of endless possibilities."
"I am not immersed in self-admiration. When I am listening to Vivaldi or Japanese music or making spaghetti at three in the morning and realize that I don’t have the proper sauce for it, fame is of no use. The other way to put it is that I don’t have a talent for narcissism. Or, to put it yet another way, the mirror is not my best friend. [Laughs] "
"My friend Henry [Wolf] once said that I had a talent for being indifferent to opportunities. He felt that I could have built more of a career, but instead I went home and drank coffee and looked out the window."
"In order to build a career and to be successful, one has to be determined. One has to be ambitious. I much prefer to drink coffee, listen to music and to paint when I feel like it… Maybe I was irresponsible. But part of the pleasure of being alive is that I didn’t take everything as seriously as one should."
“Leiter is a rare artist, one whose vision is so encompassing, so refined, so in touch with a certain lyrical undertone, that his best photographs occasionally seem literally to transcend the medium.”
—Jane Livingston, The New York School
1923 Born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Parents are Wolf Leiter (born Poland) and Regina née Goldberg (born Austria).
1930s Attends Talmudic Academy in New York City.
1935 (circa) Given Detrola camera by his mother. Begins photographing sporadically.
1936 Kodachrome color film for 35mm cameras is debuted.
1937 (circa) Anscochrome color film for 35mm cameras is debuted.
1940s (circa) Ektachrome color film for 35mm cameras is debuted.
1941 Enrolls at University of Pittsburgh and attends classes for one semester.
1942 (circa) Attends Telshe Yeshiva Rabbinical College, Cleveland.
1945 Paintings exhibited at Ten-Thirty Gallery, Cleveland; Outlines Gallery, Pittsburgh; Gump’s department store, San Francisco; and Arts and Crafts Center, Pittsburgh.
1946 Paintings exhibited in New Year Show at Butler Art Institute, Ohio. Moves permanently to New York City. Resides on Perry Street, Greenwich Village (c.1946-1952). Befriends Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart, who encourages Leiter to take photographs.
1947 Attends Henri Cartier-Bresson’s exhibition at Museum of Modern Art. One of Leiter’s paintings is included in Abstract and Surrealist American Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. Befriends W. Eugene Smith, who gives him Alexey Brodovitch’s book Ballet. Paintings exhibited at Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio.
1948 (circa) Begins working with color slide film, including Kodachrome and Anscochrome. Works primarily with three cameras, Argosy C3, Auto Graflex Junior, and early Rolleiflex.
1951 LIFE publishes Leiter’s black-and-white series The Wedding as a Funeral, September 3 issue. More work is featured in LIFE’s November 26 issue (“Shoes of the Shoeshine Men”).
1952 Moves to New York City’s East Village. Cooperative Tanager Gallery is founded; Leiter works in studio behind gallery. Exhibits drawings in a group show at Tanager.
1953 Black-and-white photographs are included in Always the Young Strangers at the Museum of Modern Art and in Contemporary Photography at the Tokyo Museum.
1954 Marries Barbara Hatch.
1956 Solo exhibition (watercolors) at Tanager Gallery, New York.
1955 Gives slide talk about his color work at the Club, an East Village art space. Exhibits color work at Samuel Kootz Gallery, New York.
1957 Steichen includes twenty of Leiter’s color photographs in his slide talk “Experimental Photography in Color” at the Museum of Modern Art. Henry Wolf, art director at Esquire, publishes Leiter’s fashion photographs.
1958 Begins to photograph for Harper’s Bazaar when Henry Wolf becomes art director. Three color prints included in Photographs from the Museum Collection at the Museum of Modern Art, curated by Edward Steichen.
1959 Travels to Europe on assignment for Esquire to photograph Gina Lollobrigida during the making of the film Solomon and Sheba in Madrid. Photographs for the cover of Camera. Included in exhibition Photographer’s Choice along with Garry Winogrand at Workshop Gallery, New York. Separates from wife Barbara Hatch.
1960-62 (circa) Rents studio space from fashion photographer John Rawlings. Meets fashion model Soames Bantry. Together Leiter and Bantry reside on East 10th Street in New York’s East Village.
1963 Exhibits in Photography ’63 at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY. Establishes commercial studio at 156 5th Avenue.
1960-1980's Continues to take fashion photographs and do other commercial work. His fashion work is published in Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Show, British Vogue, Queen, and Nova. His photographs are also included in LIFE, U.S. Camera, Photography Annual, and Infinity magazines. Travels to Mexico, France, Italy, and Israel.
1976 William Eggleston’s exhibition of color photography, at the Museum of Modern Art, is first one-person exhibition of color photographs at a major museum.
1979 Leiter receives funding from Mobile Artists in Residence Program to photograph in North Sea region.
1981 Closes commercial studio at 156 5th Avenue due to financial difficulties.
1987 History of Photography series Fotofolio postcards printed.
1991 Fashion work included in group exhibition Appearances at Victoria and Albert Museum in London, with accompanying book by Martin Harrison.
1992 Black-and-white work is included in Jane Livingston’s book The New York School: Photographs 1936-1963.
1993 Black-and-white photographs exhibited at Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York. Leiter receives funding from Ilford Paper Company to begin printing 35mm color slides as Ilfochromes with Laumont Labs in New York.
1994 Black-and-white photographs exhibited at Howard Greenberg Gallery.
1997 Exhibition of color photographs at Howard Greenberg Gallery.
2002 Gives talk at Jewish Museum, New York, for New York Capital of Photography exhibition. Soames Bantry dies on October 9.
2004 Signs contract for book on color with Steidl.
2005 Exhibition Saul Leiter: Early Color at Howard Greenberg Gallery.
2006 First monograph, Early Color, is published by Steidl. First solo museum exhibition, at Milwaukee Art Museum. Leiter attends exhibition and gives talk. Whitney Museum of American Art, National Gallery, and Amon Carter Museum add Leiter’s work to their permanent collections.
2007 Metropolitan Transportation Authority displays eight Duratrans of New York color images at 6th Avenue & 42nd Street subway station.
2008 First solo museum show in Europe, at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, with accompanying book. Gives talk and slide presentation at the Jewish Museum, Paris.
2009 First painting exhibition in over 30 years, at Knoedler Gallery, New York. Tomas Leach begins filming documentary In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life With Saul Leiter.
2010 Travels to Berlin to give talk and slide show at C/O Berlin, in conjunction with Photography Days festival.
2011 Saul Leiter: Colors is published by Idpure Éditions, accompanying the exhibition Saul Leiter: Early Color at the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland.
2012 Attends retrospective exhibition at Deichtorhallen in Hamburg, Germany; accompanying book, Saul Leiter: Retrospective, is published by Kehrer. Also attends his solo exhibition at Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, and is interviewed on stage.
2013 Interviewed on stage by Vince Aletti at School of Visual Arts, New York. Dies November 26 at his home of 60 years in New York’s East Village. A Leiter photograph is cover image for New York magazine’s “Reasons to Love New York” issue, December 23-30.
2014 Tomas Leach’s documentary In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life With Saul Leiter officially debuts in January at Lincoln Center Film Society, New York. Early Black & White is published by Steidl/Howard Greenberg Library.
2015 Painted Nudes is published by Sylph Editions, London. The New Yorker publishes six-page Leiter portfolio in March 9 issue. In No Great Hurry premieres in Tokyo. Steidl publishes fourth edition of Early Color.
2016 Exhibitions Saul Leiter: Retrospective, the Photographers’ Gallery, London, and Saul Leiter, FOMU Fotomuseum, Antwerp.
2017 Photographer Saul Leiter: A Retrospective, Leiter’s first solo exhibition in Japan, opens at Tokyo’s Bunkamura Museum. The book All About Saul Leiter, published by Seigensha, is released in conjunction with the show.
Selected Solo Exhibitions
2018 Saul Leiter: In Search of Beauty, Foto Colectania, Barcelona
2017 Photographer Saul Leiter: A Retrospective, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo
2016 Saul Leiter: Retrospective, the Photographers’ Gallery, London
Saul Leiter, FOMU Fotomuseum, Antwerp
2015 Saul Leiter: Finding Beauty, HackelBury Fine Art, London
Saul Leiter: Painted Nudes, Ampersand Gallery, Portland, Oregon
Saul Leiter, Early Black & White, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp
2014 Saul Leiter: Early Color, National Arts Club, New York
Saul Leiter, MAP Festival, Toulouse, France
Saul Leiter: Retrospective, Fotografie Forum, Frankfurt
Saul Leiter, Early Black & White, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
2013 Saul Leiter, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp
Saul Leiter, HackelBury Fine Art, London
Saul Leiter, Musée Cantonal du Tessin, Lugano, Switzerland
Saul Leiter, Rose Gallery, Santa Monica
Saul Leiter, Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna
2012 Saul Leiter, Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto
Saul Leiter, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
Saul Leiter, Forma Foundation for Photography, Milan
Saul Leiter, Flo Peters Gallery, Hamburg
Saul Leiter, Gun Gallery, Stockholm
2011 Saul Leiter, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland
Saul Leiter, Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam
2010 Saul Leiter, Gallery.ru, Moscow
Saul Leiter, Photographs & Paintings, Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris
Saul Leiter, KMR Arts, Washington Depot, Connecticut
2009 Saul Leiter Paintings, Knoedler Gallery, New York
Saul Leiter, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp
Saul Leiter, Nicole Stanner Gallery, Munich
Saul Leiter, Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saone, France
2008 Saul Leiter, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris
Saul Leiter, Galleria Carla Sozzani, Milan
Saul Leiter, Jackson Fine Art, Atlanta
Saul Leiter Women, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
Saul Leiter, Faggionato Fine Arts, London
Saul Leiter, Galerie Camera Obscura, Paris
2007 Saul Leiter: Early Color, University of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor
Saul Leiter: Early Color, Gallery Kayafas, Boston
2006 In Living Color: Photographs by Saul Leiter, Milwaukee Art Museum Saul Leiter: Color, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, Antwerp The Fashion Photographs of Saul Leiter, Festival of Fashion Photography, Hyères, France
2005 Saul Leiter: Early Color, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
2004 Saul Leiter: In Color, Staton Greenberg Gallery, Santa Barbara, California
2002 Colour Concept, National Gallery of Australia
1997 Saul Leiter: In Color, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
Saul Leiter: In Color, Schneider Gallery, Chicago
1994 Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
1993 Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York
1985 Gallery Lafayette, New York
1984 Gallery Lafayette, New York
1973 Midtown Y Photography Gallery, New York
1960 Image Gallery, New York
1956 Tanager Gallery, New York
1947 Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio
1945 Outlines Gallery, Pittsburgh
1944 Ten Thirty Gallery, Cleveland
Saul Leiter: Painted Nudes, Sylph Editions, London, 2015
Saul Leiter: Early Black & White, HGG/Steidl, Göttingen, Germany, 2014
Saul Leiter: Here’s More, Why Not, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, 2013
Saul Leiter: Retrospective, Kehrer, Hamburg, 2012
Saul Leiter: Photographs & Works on Paper, Fifty One Fine Art Photography, 2011
Saul Leiter: Colors, Idpure Éditions, Morges, Switzerland, 2011
Saul Leiter: Dancing in the Street, Musée Nicéphore Niépce, Chalon-sur-Saone, 2009
Saul Leiter, Photofile, London, Thames & Hudson, 2008
Saul Leiter, FotoNotes, Rome, Contrasto, 2008
Saul Leiter, Steidl, Göttingen, Germany 2008
Saul Leiter, Photo Poche, Actes Sud, Paris, 2007
Saul Leiter: Early Color (1st Edition), Steidl, Göttingen, Germany, 2006
Selected Public & Private Collections
Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts
Albertina Museum, Vienna
American Academy of Arts & Letters, New York
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth
Art Institute of Chicago
Art Collection of Agnès B. (private)
Baltimore Museum of Art
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Sir Elton John Collection (private)
Fondation Nationale d’Art Contemporain, Paris
Hermès Collection of Art (private)
Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris
Milwaukee Museum of Art
Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City (Hallmark Photographic Collection)v
RISD Museum, Providence, Rhode Island
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California
Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas
St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri
Staatliche Museen Zu Berlin
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam
Queensland Art Gallery, Australia
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York
Whitney Museum of American Arts, New York
Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut
Dog in Doorway, Paterson, 1952Single page, 390 x 275 mmView full caption details
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