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05/02/16
Saul Leiter Exhibition

A must-see exhibition for anyone who’s passion is photography (for lovers of colour and negative space in particular).

Saul Leiter Exhibition

On show at The Photographers’ Gallery (22 Jan – 3 Apr 2016) is a comprehensive body of work, not only photography but also paintings and sketchbooks.

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1923), Saul Leiter moved to New York in 1946 to become a painter.
He considered himself a painter first, even though he had a career in photography (he shot many covers for Harper’s Bazaar), painting was the one thing he did every day of his life and he always went back to it.

“It is not where it is or what it is that matters, but how you see it.”

Saul Leiter started photographing after attending a Henry Cartier-Bresson exhibition in 1947.
He went out, bought a Leica and started shooting black and white 35mm film.
In 1948 he began using colour.

Today, he is regarded as a pioneer for his revolutionary use of colour film but he stayed relatively unknown until the ’90s when the Greenberg Gallery held an exhibition about his black and white (1993) and colour photographs (1997).

The theme for his personal and editorial photography projects was always New York, the city that never sleeps. You can find the whole world in his shots, from stylish women crossing the street in their Chanel coats to postmen at work in a sea of advertising signs and snow.
A group of portraits in a single photograph taken through a glass window, or said window rendered abstract subject by the moisture.
He had recurrent subjects too: red umbrellas, car windows and negative space, a lot of negative space.

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“I don’t have a philosophy, I have a camera”

His photos of NY resembled his paintings and the ‘canvas’ was precisely divided and the colours placed within the lines.
The details he captured with his camera are amazing and they denote a great eye for composition and speed to capture the ‘decisive moment’ and the surreal situations that come with it.

The middle section of the exhibition is dedicated to ‘Painted Photos of Nudes’ where he used to paint over photographs of naked women.
The result is quite intriguing, some of them leave the photograph uncovered and look almost like collages, some others are completely swallowed by the paint and become only a trace of a photographic portrait.

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This exhibition is a great opportunity to discover a Master of Photography who didn’t get the recognition he deserved in life because he wasn’t interested in fame, and he only did what he loved.

Want to know more about Saul Leiter? Just read on:
A fantastic episode of The Art of Photography entirely dedicated to him – runs through Saul’s entire career.
In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter
“I hope that people who see this film enjoy their time with Saul as much as I have.” Tomas Leach, director, 2012