Saul Leiter (1923 – 2013) is an American photographer and painter born 1923 in Pittsburg, USA. He had developed an early interest in painting and was fortunate to meet the abstract expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart. Pousette-Dart and W. Eugene Smith encouraged Leiter to pursue photography and he was soon taking black and white pictures with a 35 mm Leica. In 1948, he started taking color photographs. He began associating with other contemporary photographers such as Robert Frank and Diane Arbus and helped form the New York School of photographers during the 1940s and 1950s. Saul Leiter’s ground-breaking work in photography and painting is only now receiving the international recognition it deserves.Saul Leiter has made an enormous and unique contribution to photography. His abstracted forms and radically innovative compositions have a painterly quality that stands out among the work of his New York School contemporaries. Perhaps this is because Leiter has continued through the years to work as both a photographer and painter.
None of Leiter’s contemporaries, with the single and partial exception of Helen Livitt, assembled a comparable body of work in color. The lyricism and intensity of his vision come into fullest play in his eloquent handling of color: to the rapid recording of the spontaneous unfolding of life on the street, Leiter adds and unconventional sense of form and brilliantly improvisational, and frequently almost abstract, use of found colors and tones. Leiter’s work is further distinguished by its indifference to decisive moments of human intercourse. Leiter is one of photography’s underrated masters, and a living testament to the maxim that the greatest artists are often the most humble and self-deprecating.