Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Reflections as a theme

I am a great fan of the photographic work of Saul Leiter. Here below is an excerpt about his history and what place he takes in the art world.

The New York School Abstract Expressionists, founded in 1951 had a club of artists. The Club was a loose-knit group of abstract artists that included William and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Motherwell and on occasion Jackson Pollock. It also included lesser known painters like Hendler, Herman Cherry and Peter Busa. In addition it contained a photographer: Saul Leiter. In fact, the Club gave Leiter his first exhibition in their meeting room.

What makes Leiter interesting is that his work drew heavily on the Abstract Expressionists. But unlike the painters who believed that abstraction grew from within the artist, Leiter found it on the streets of New York. His work therefore is quite different than photographer Aaron Siskind, who's photographs often looked like abstract painting. Leiter instead drew from Cartier-Bresson, and one would guess the Photo League in New York. His work clearly has some 35mm street photography influences, even though it predates Robert Frank.

Leiter had the misfortune of working in a medium that did not gain full acceptance in the art world until at least the mid-70's. But worse he was working in color photography, which for the most part was ignored until relatively recently. The fact that his medium was 35mm slides made for even greater difficulty in exhibiting his work when he was making it.

1960 - Snow - chromogenic print

1958 - Through Boards - chromogenic print

1958 - Shopper - chromogenic print

Leiter also did some PARIS photographs during his time spent there.

1959 - Cafe Paris - Fuji Crystal Archive Print

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