Saul Leiter - Soames, New York, 1950. Old Authentic Original Drawing Offset Print.
Size: 13.2 cm x 19.9 cm. A wonderful testimony to traditional fine art printing.
Which unfortunately has completely disappeared today. Remarkable small print, close to a photograph, brilliant, with colors of very good density. Its contrasting rendering, its luminosity, as well as its sharp definition, are absolutely magnificent. Print made in 2002 by a former art printer Archival Model Printer four-color printing enhanced with a semi-gloss varnish.This unpublished print was found in the depths of an assembly workshop in the archive lockers of a former art printing works, preciously kept flat and protected from light. Although it is old with its 20 years of age, it has remained in a good state of conservation.
Presence of some traces of dirt on the back and slight marks due to the manipulations of the printer during reprints. On the other hand, the front is intact, in perfect condition and of a remarkable shine.This is a print that the printer had archived as a color reference model for his machine reprints. And laminated on a support in order to be able to preserve it over time. In 1950, Saul Leiter, in the company of his companion Soames, model and painter, during a walk together walking the sidewalks of New York, takes this photograph where all things give each other the answer between them, which allows him to to obtain a rendering like gouache deposited on a canvas, his wife in the flow of one of the streets of the Big Apple, the light and the colors take on all their dimensions through an image framed with a verticality that is her credo, of this city which leaves little room for breathing, she is plunged into solitude, like a prisoner of the disorder of the street, caught in a vice. To build an image for Saul Leiter is to paint the real and the unreal at the same time, he adds the colors in a universe where it is difficult to see the limits between the interior and the exterior, making photographs almost abstract, right in the middle of the New York urban jungle.
He is certainly one of the photographers from his camera capable of obtaining a painting, he points his camera both at the street and at the inhabitants, who are nothing more than tiny silhouettes who are in total chaos. A fleeting moment that is in the spotlight, his eye is on the lookout for the slightest visual surprise, while looking for vaporous reflections, a filthy window, he deliberately blurs, defying conventional photography, which interests him before everything is by no means reality, but the superposition of reality, an image that allows it to have a rendering like gouache deposited on a canvas.I don't know how I took such a photo at such a time or why. I don't know if I managed to do what I wanted, I never knew what I wanted to do! He does not photograph the streets of New York to illustrate the life of its inhabitants, he integrates the urban landscape of the Big Apple into his images as a playground and an immense source of creativity, fleeting scenes, original framing, plays with developed by multiplying non-academic practices, cuts its subjects, provokes random balances, fulls and voids. He uses soft and dark colors in flat areas that balance each other, gives a photographic reading with expressionist accents, tending towards abstraction. He blurs the tracks, through the glass, seeks reverberation, a game of mirrors where light and speed can be printed at the same time, erasing all limits, or everything is reversed. It seems to me that mysterious things can take place in familiar places. Being a stranger moving through the belly of a city and not being seen is what the photographer captures. With his amused gaze, the most significant details of urban movement, the result is a fresco of objects, advertising signs, street, building, roof, stairs, all in contradictory movements producing a rhythm of unexpected improvisations. Leiter with this photo finds his philosophy of the real street photographer, creating a particular universe, a unique style in photography, succeeding in painting using his camera. The human figures, he treats them first as forms, only then one recognizes there, a peddler, a passer-by, a shopkeeper on the sidewalk, a man on the telephone, a postman or even a part of the body. It is a universe of echoes and ricochets, captured from angles that challenge these diverse presences that animate the urban space. I have great respect for disorder, the most serious judgment I can have about my work is that it is unfinished and it is the unfinished that attracts me. He works in his shots, original and surprising framings using a lot of voids like blacks, or his photo is eaten up by reflections or games of transparency, almost abstract. The succession of shots in his photos superimposes different stories that generate mystery. He likes to play with blur, mist and the anonymity of passers-by. Color is for him a material, which he spreads over his images like flat areas in his canvases. Silhouettes in transit, shadows, mysterious and indirect visions between romanticism and film noir. In color, in New York, but also in Paris, Rome or Spain, the tones of his photographs are both lively and faded with an absence of strict contours, which make them plastic works in the minds of painters who he admires like Bonnard or Vuillard. He was able to capture a delicate between-two-worlds a thousand miles from the urban jungle, a floating, misty world, in an infinite succession of abysses. His images transform reality to create his own poetic, dreamlike and soothing universe. Saul Leiter, a lover of cities and especially New York, is a pioneer of color and abstract street photography, is a poetic flâneur who has used the lens as a paintbrush, a brilliant magician chromatic with shifted prism, streaming light and blurred silence.
Strolling the sidewalks, he looks for neon signs, illuminated windows or passers-by who become abstract silhouettes. It blends and clarifies for the viewer the sense of a vision of the city, a tangle of objects, misted, dripping glass, a reflection, a mirror, a soft focus by adding an overlapping black and white to the color. By its framing his photo is an extraordinary composition, always remaining coherent, of an extreme sophistication.
The places sometimes remain secret, the titles of his photographs are always in a barely visible detail, ending up in a tiny part of his framing. He is a modest man, who expresses himself in aphorisms and is ironic about his phlegm. His work surprises him, amuses him. He seeks to capture a deep feeling, haphazardly in the streets, without social or documentary inclination, stubborn in his approach, preferring to pursue his path rather than entering a mould.
His meeting in New York in 1946 with the painter Richard Pousette-Dart was decisive, as was his visit to the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition at the MoMA in 1947. He understands very quickly that photography can be an art form and borrows a camera while continuing to paint and pastels. Close to abstract expressionism in his color photographs, the temptation of abstraction begins to express itself in his first black and white images.He has often been associated with the "New York School", but his relationship to time, the deep intuition of the moment when one abandons oneself, his taste for disorder, loneliness and the fleetingness of things make him an artist. Apart, not caring to be in a current. He is one of the pioneers of contemporary color photography at a time when only black and white was worthy of interest.
Renowned as a fashion photographer, he was later recognized for the importance of his work as a photographer of the streets of New York City that he loved so much. His goal is not to illustrate city life, but to seek fleeting moments and scenes. Photographs are often considered pure reality, but in fact they are small fragments of memories of this unfinished world. Son of a renowned rabbi, he is totally misunderstood by his father who had no esteem for photography and art.
His mother, on the contrary, will support him and in 1935 will offer him a "Detrola" camera. In 1944 he exhibited his first paintings at the "Ten Thirty Gallery" in Cleveland, at the "Outlines Gallery" in Pittsburgh, and at the "Gump" department store in San Francisco. A brilliant theology student at the "Telshe Yeshiva Rabbinical College" in Cleveland, he decided at the age of 23 to abandon his studies and move to New York in 1946 to devote himself to his first passion, painting. Under the influence of abstract expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart. He will continue to exhibit alongside Philip Guston and Willem de Kooning and will meet Eugene Smith.
In 1947 during an exhibition at MoMA by Henri Cartier-Bresson, he began to take an interest in photography and decided to make it his profession. In 1948, he turned to color, while alternating the two styles.
In 1951, his black and white series "The Wedding as a Funeral" will be published in LIFE Magazine. In 1953, Edward Steichen, chief curator of photography at MoMA, selected twenty-five of his black and white prints for the "Always the Young Stranger" exhibition. His photographs will be part of the "Contemporary Photography" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.
At the same time, he will open a photographic studio on Bleeker Street, where he will devote himself to portraiture, fashion and advertising. In 1955 he held his first exhibition of color photographs at the "Artist's Club", a meeting place for abstract expressionist painters.
Then in 1956 he exhibited personally at the "Tanager Gallery" in New York. In 1957 Edward Steichen again asked him for twenty of his color shots in order to integrate them for a conference he gave at the MoMA called "Experimental Photography in Color".Henry Wolf, legendary art director, will publish his photos for the first time in "Esquire" magazine and in "Harper's Bazaar". He will therefore become one of the great photographers in the field and will work for the most prestigious fashion magazines on the planet. Her work will be published in "Elle", "Life", "Nova", "Vogue" and "Queen". In 1991 the "Victoria & Albert Museum" in London devoted an exhibition to her "Appearences: Fashion Photography Since 1945". In 1993 His black & white works will be exhibited at the "Howard Greenberg Gallery" in New York. In 2005 "Early Color" exhibition at the "Howard Greenberg Gallery". Then in 2008 first exhibition of his personal work in France, at the HCB Foundation in Paris. He made his first photographs in the early 1940s in the streets of New York. For 20 years he continued to walk the streets, and his work was rediscovered much later, in the mid-1990s. He distinguished himself for many years as a fashion photographer, devoting most of his career , from his beginnings in 1953 in his Bleeker Street studio, until the mid-1980s. His most personal and artistic street work would not be discovered until the end of the 1990s, thanks to Howard Geenberg Gallery" in New York, which organized an exhibition of his black and white photographs in 1993, and to Martin Harrison, author in 2006 of Saul Leiter's first book, "Early Color. Sale as is, no return. Also please a look my sales list! Thanks a lot to the following photographers.