Saul Leiter: Early Black and White Photographs

Saul Leiter was immensely talented, revered, and spent much of his life successfully avoiding the limelight. When he died last year, obituarists made much of his pioneer forays into colour, at a time when the practice was considered both vulgar and commercial. But Leiter was never interested in following the crowd. He was a painter before he became a photographer, and his only wish was to record the instances when colours and shapes moved into fleeting geometry. He didn’t give two hoots whether he did so with a brush, a roll of black and white or a roll of colour film.

This focus on colour, though richly deserved, has been at the expense of his black-and-white work, which demonstrates the same, awe-inducing, visual dexterity. A new two-volume survey seeks to redress the balance by showing the kinds of images he was making while his fellow shutterbugs were hot on the heels of a more incisive and inherently descriptive slice of life. Via

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