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November 6, 2021

Stunning Color Photography in the 1950s by Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter (1923-2013) was born in Pittsburgh. His interest in art began in his late teens, he left theology school and moved to New York to pursue painting at age 23. In New York, he befriended the Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart, who was experimenting with photography. His friendship with Pousette-Dart and soon after, with W. Eugene Smith, expanded his interest in photography.

Color photography in the 1950s by Saul Leiter

Leiter’s earliest black and white photographs show an extraordinary affinity for the medium. By the 1950s, he began to work in color as well, compiling an extensive and significant body of work during the medium’s infancy. His distinctively subdued color often has a painterly quality that stood out among the work of his contemporaries.

However, over the next four decades, Leiter’s noncommercial work remained virtually unknown to the wider art world. He continued to work as a fashion photographer through the 1970s, contributing to such publications as in Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen, and Nova.

Leiter is now held to be a pioneer of early color photography, and is noted as one of the outstanding figures in post-war photography. After several exhibitions at Howard Greenberg Gallery throughout the 1990s, Leiter’s work experienced a surge of popularity after a monograph, Early Color, was published by Steidl in 2006. Leiter was the subject of several solo shows thereafter, including the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris; the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam; Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne; and Diechtorhallen, Hamburg.

Saul Leiter continued to paint and photograph through the end of his life. Take a look at these stunning color photos to see his work in the 1950s.

Christmas, New York, 1950

London, 1950

Man and Flowers, New York, circa 1950s

Orange Umbrella, circa 1950

Passenger, 1950

Purple Umbrella, circa 1950s

Subway Window, circa 1950s

Central Park, 1952

Don't Walk, 1952

Pizza, Patterson, 1952

Postmen, 1952

Snowfall, New York, 1952

Shopping, circa 1953

Bus, 1954

El, New York, 1954

Foot on El, 1954

Near the Tanager, 1954

Sign Painter, 1954

Man in Straw Hat, circa 1955

Red Umbrella, circa 1955

Haircut, 1956

Hat, 1956

Taxi, 1956

Walking, 1956

Yellow Scarf, 1956

Barbershop, 1957

Red Umbrella, 1957

Taxi, New York, 1957

Through Boards, 1957

Untitled, 1957

Mirrors, circa 1958

New York, 1958

Red Composition, White Circle, 1958

Red Umbrella, 1958

Reflection, 1958

Walk with Soames, 1958

Horn & Hardart, circa 1959

Paris, 1959

Street Scene, 1959

Waiter, Paris, 1959

(Photo © Saul Leiter)

1 comment:

  1. insane. the absolute best. no one before or since does street photography like this.
    if you're a fan, he did more than point and shoot ... had a very complicated processing procedure that he essentially invented, to give everything the saul leiter look.




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