Saul Leiter
November 27, 2013 10:36 AM   Subscribe

"I've been described as being a pioneer. Am I a pioneer? ... Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. I don't mind one way or the other." Saul Leiter was born in 1923 in Pittsburgh; at 23 he left theology school and headed to New York to become an artist. He worked in both painting and photography, finding early support for his black-and-white photos in an 1953 MoMA show. He settled into an East Village apartment and did fashion photography to support himself. But on his own time, on the sidewalks of NYC, he developed a lyrical and painterly personal style of color street photography that's now seen as both masterly and very ahead of its time. In his twilight years he saw a new appreciation for his work, with books and a new documentary film, which had its New York debut on Nov. 16. Saul Leiter passed away last night in New York City at age 89. (Previously on Mefi.)
posted by lisa g (13 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, this is sad and great. I'm such a fan. Thank you.
posted by marimeko at 10:42 AM on November 27, 2013

God, these are amazing. Like a cross between Andre Kertesz and Mark Rothko or something.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:47 AM on November 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Looking at his pictures makes me want to smash my camera, and I mean that in the nicest way possible.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:23 AM on November 27, 2013 [5 favorites]

I'd never heard of him and I adore these photographs. Thank you for this post.
posted by cell divide at 11:27 AM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

The slideshow in the "painterly" link has one photo that is NSFW.

That slideshow also has some of the best photography I've seen in a long time. The snowstorm shots are beyond great.
posted by dogwalker at 11:58 AM on November 27, 2013

Jeezus. I mean... his eye:
Paris, 1959
Taxi, New York, 1957
Shoe, c.1950
Canopy, 1958

Also, he was the first person to photograph the Blues Brothers, FWIW.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:02 PM on November 27, 2013

Aw, shit. I love his work so much.
It's a very lovely post; thanks for this.
posted by heyho at 2:18 PM on November 27, 2013

Here's the New York Times obit.

I'm glad he lived to see this upsurge of appreciation of his work near the end of his life. I highly recommend the documentary, too, which mostly consists of interviews with him in his apartment; he's a little gruff about the whole concept of the film, but his charm and wit really come through.
posted by lisa g at 3:17 PM on November 27, 2013

He is I ne of my favorite street photographers and probably the best who works in color. Thanks for this post.
posted by stp123 at 6:59 PM on November 27, 2013

I had not heard of him before, wonderful photos, thanks for posting this!
posted by carter at 8:06 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bert Hardy and Saul Leiter.
What would I have given for one tenth of their talent?
And how much richer my life has been for seeing their work.

posted by speug at 10:40 PM on November 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

posted by klausness at 9:27 AM on November 29, 2013

He was a giant.

posted by abecedarium radiolarium at 10:40 AM on November 30, 2013

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