The Poetic World of Saul Leiter
Saul Leiter (December 3, 1923 – November 26, 2013) was an American photographer and painter whose early work in the 1940s and 1950s was an important contribution to what came to be recognized as the New York school of photography. With distinctive imagery suffused with painterly qualities, he is often grouped with other photographers of the New York School such as Richard Avedon, Weegee, and Diane Arbus
Leiter was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His father was a well known Talmud scholar and Saul studied to become a Rabbi. His mother gave him his first camera at age 12. At age 23, he left theology school and moved to New York City to become an artist. He had developed an early interest in painting and was fortunate to meet the Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart.
Pousette-Dart and W. Eugene Smith encouraged Leiter to pursue photography and he was soon taking black and white pictures with a 35 mm Leica, which he acquired for a few Eugene Smith prints. In 1948, he started taking color photographs. He began associating with other contemporary photographers such as Robert Frank and Diane Arbus and helped form what Jane Livingston has termed the New York School of photographers during the 1940s and 1950s.
The artist died on November 26, 2013 in New York, NY at the age of 89. Today, his works are held in the collections of the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and the Art Institute of Chicago, among others.