To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Saul Leiter’s birth, the Howard Greenberg Gallery is hosting the exhibition “Saul Leiter: Centennial” from December 2, 2023, to February 10, 2024. The showcase includes over 40 photographs, paintings, and painted photographs, many of which have never been publicly displayed in the United States. Developed in collaboration with the Saul Leiter Foundation, this exhibition coincides with the release of a new book, “Saul Leiter: The Centennial Retrospective,” published by Thames & Hudson in November.
Saul Leiter, an artist who photographed and painted consistently for over six decades, left behind a vast archive, much of it unseen during his lifetime. Known for finding beauty in the ordinary within a few blocks of his Lower Manhattan apartment, Leiter is celebrated for his captivating color photographs of 1950s and 1960s New York, as well as his success as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar. Alongside his street scenes and fashion photography, Leiter explored black-and-white nudes and intimate portraits during his daily walks, complemented by his experimentation with abstract watercolors, whimsical sketchbooks, and painted photographs.
This comprehensive monograph brings together Leiter’s diverse yet interconnected bodies of work, unveiling the complete artist for the first time, with previously unpublished material.
About the Author
Saul Leiter (1923-2013), born in Pittsburgh, developed an interest in art in his late teens. Despite encouragement to follow in his father’s footsteps as a Rabbi, Leiter left theology school at 23 to pursue painting in New York. His friendship with Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart and later, W. Eugene Smith, expanded his interest in photography. Leiter’s early black-and-white photographs showcased an extraordinary affinity for the medium, and by the 1950s, he delved into color photography, producing a substantial body of work with a distinctively subdued, painterly quality that set him apart from his contemporaries.
Leiter’s first color photography exhibition took place in the 1950s at the Artist’s Club. Notably, Edward Steichen featured his works in influential exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, propelling Leiter into the spotlight. While Leiter continued to work as a fashion photographer through the 1970s, his noncommercial work remained largely unknown until the publication of “Early Color” in 2006, marking a resurgence in his popularity. Subsequent monographs and international exhibitions, including “In Living Color” (2006), showcased the depth and scope of his contributions to photography and painting.
Saul Leiter’s work, recognized as pioneering in early color photography, is held in numerous prestigious collections worldwide. Despite his passing in 2013, his legacy endures through documentaries such as Tomas Leach’s “In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter” (2012). Leiter continued to paint and photograph until the end of his life.