EST. 2009

April 12, 2018

That Invitation to View


SAUL LEITER WAS ONE OF THE FIRST PHOTOGRAPHERS TO CAPTURE NEW YORK CITY IN COLOR, but as there was no art market for color photos at the time, he made a living as a fashion photographer for such titles as Elle, Harper's Bazaar, and British Vogue. His work differed from other commercial images of the period, with products' and models' faces partly obscured or out of focus. This elusive quality set his photos apart, inviting the viewer in with their mystery and visual abstraction.

“A window covered with raindrops interests me more than a photograph of a famous person,” Leiter says in the 2014 documentary In No Great Hurry. His photographs often feature passers-by glimped through doorways, reflected in windows, or concealed by layers of foreground obstructions. They never blatantly present a subject, and rather take their time to unveil mood, setting, and narrative, with rich yet hazy detail. There's something new to see each time you look.

Leiter was considered a member of the esteemed New York School of photographers, along with Dianne Arbus and Richard Avedon, but he was always an outsider. Throughout his career, he experienced cyclically being forgotten and rediscovered, expressing contentment of the fact: "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."

A most elegant attitude to being overshadowed.

Photographs by Saul Leiter, images from artnet.com

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