Posts Tagged ‘Color in American Photography

01
Mar
12

Exhibition: ‘Saul Leiter: New York Reflections’ at the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam

Exhibition dates: 24th October 2011 – 4th March 2012

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013) 'Taxi' 1957

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Taxi
1957
© Saul Leiter, Collection Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

“I must admit that I am not a member of the ugly school. I have a great regard for certain notions of beauty even though to some it is an old fashioned idea. Some photographers think that by taking pictures of human misery, they are addressing a serious problem. I do not think that misery is more profound than happiness.”

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Saul Leiter

 

“Leiter’s sensibility… placed him outside the visceral confrontations with urban anxiety associated with photographers such as Robert Frank or William Klein. Instead, for him the camera provided an alternate way of seeing, of framing events and interpreting reality. He sought out moments of quiet humanity in the Manhattan maelstrom, forging a unique urban pastoral from the most unlikely of circumstances.”

.
Martin Harrison. ‘Saul Leiter Early Color’

 

 

The first of two postings on the underrated, underexposed American photographer Saul Leiter. These photographs are a delightful surprise! Some, like Through Boards (1957, below) are as illuminating as any Rothko going around. His art is not of the documentary gaze but of a brief glimpse, glanz, refulgence of desire ∞ snatched from the nonlinearity of time ∞ cleft in(to) its fabric. What wonderfully composed reflections they are. I absolutely adore them.

The media release states, “… but where his color photography is concerned, he cannot be compared with any other photographer. In the 1940s and 1950s, Leiter was virtually the only non-commercial photographer working in color.” Galleries must beware such bombastic claims: other photographers working in colour in the 1940s-50s include Paul OuterbridgeLászló Moholy-NagyNickolas MurayJack Smith, Eliot Porter and William Eggleston to name but a few (also see the posting on the exhibition Beyond COLOR: Color in American Photography, 1950-1970).

The second posting will be from a major retrospective of his work at The House of Photography at Deichtorhallen.
Perhaps this photographer is finally getting the accolades he so rightly deserves.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the Jewish Historical Museum for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013) 'Through Boards' 1957

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Through Boards
1957
© Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013) 'Harlem' 1960

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Harlem
1960
© Saul Leiter, Collection Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013) 'Haircut' 1956

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Haircut
1956
© Saul Leiter, Collection Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

From 24 October 2011 to 4 March 2012 the JHM is presenting a retrospective exhibition of the work of the American photographer and painter Saul Leiter (1923-2013). Following a long period of obscurity, Leiter’s work has recently been rediscovered in the United States and Europe. This is the first exhibition of his work in the Netherlands.

Saul Leiter is celebrated particularly for his painterly colour photographs of the street life in New York, which he produced between 1948 and 1960. Amid the hectic life of the city he captured tranquil moments of everyday beauty. He was able to transform mundane objects – a red umbrella in a snowstorm, a foot resting on a bench in the metro, or a human figure seen through the condensation on a pane of glass – into what has been described as ‘urban visual poetry’. His photographs are frequently layered, near-abstract compositions of reflections and shadows, which recall paintings by abstract expressionists such as Mark Rothko and Willem de Kooning, with whom Leiter felt a strong affinity.

Saul Leiter is seen as belonging to the New York School of Photographers, a group of innovative artists, most of them Jewish, who achieved fame in New York in the period 1936-1963, primarily with their images of the street and their documentary photography. His black-and-white work displays a lyricism, dreaminess and surrealism that might prompt comparison with photographers such as Ted Croner, Leon Levinstein and Louis Faurer, but where his colour photography is concerned, he cannot be compared with any other photographer. In the 1940s and 1950s, Leiter was virtually the only non-commercial photographer working in colour.

Born in Pittsburgh, Leiter was destined to become a rabbi like his father. But his growing interest in art led him to abandon his religious studies. Instead, he went to New York and dedicated himself to painting. His friendship there with the abstract expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart, who was experimenting with photography, and the work of the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, inspired Leiter to take up photography. His friendship with the photographer W. Eugene Smith was another inspiring influence.

The exhibition Saul Leiter: New York Reflections was prepared by the JHM in collaboration with the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York. Besides over 60 colour and 40 black-and-white examples of his street photography, a small selection of fashion photographs, paintings, and painted photographs will be shown. Visitors will also be able to watch a recent documentary about Leiter by the British film maker Tomas Leach. This autumn, the publisher Steidl will be publishing the third edition of Early Color, the first book of Leiter’s photographs, compiled in 2006 by Martin Harrison of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Press release from the Jewish Historical Museum website

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013) 'Foot on El' 1954

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Foot on El
1954
© Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013) 'Paris' 1959

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Paris
1959
© Saul Leiter, Collection Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013) 'Reflection' 1958

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Reflection
1958
© Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013) 'Taxi' 1956

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Taxi
1956
© Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Walk with Soames' Nd

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Walk with Soames
Nd
© Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

Jewish Historical Museum
Nieuwe Amstelstraat
1
1011 PL Amsterdam
Phone: +31 (0)20 5 310 310

Opening hours:
daily from 11.00 – 17.00

Jewish Historical Museum website

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06
Oct
10

Exhibition: ‘Beyond COLOR: Color in American Photography, 1950-1970’ at Bruce Silverstein Gallery, New York

Exhibition dates: 15th September – 23rd October 2010

 

Many thankx to Yvonne Gomez and the Bruce Silverstein Gallery for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Arthur Siegel (American, 1913-1978) 'Untitled', from the series 'In Search of Myself' 1951, printed c. 1950s

 

Arthur Siegel (American, 1913-1978)
Untitled, from the series In Search of Myself
1951, printed c. 1950s
Dye transfer print mounted to board
Signed, initialed and dated by Adam Siegel on mount verso
6 7/8 x 10 inches
© Arthur Siegel, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, NY

 

Harry Callahan (1912-1999). 'New York' 1955 printed c. 1970

 

Harry Callahan (American, 1912-1999)
New York
1955 printed c. 1970s
Dye transfer print
Signed on recto
14 x 10 1/4 inches
© Harry Callahan, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, NY

 

Inge Morath. 'Ghost Town, Goldfield, Nevada' 1960, printed later

 

Inge Morath (American, 1923-2002)
Ghost Town, Goldfield, Nevada
1960, printed later
Archival pigment print
Edition of 11
Estate stamp on verso
13 x 17 1/2 inches
© Inge Morath / Magnum Photos

 

Marvin Newman (b.1927). 'Coney Island I' 1953, printed 2010

 

Marvin Newman (American, b. 1927)
Coney Island I
1953, printed 2010
Archival inkjet print
Signed and dated on verso
Edition of 10
13 x 19 inches
© Marvin Newman, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, NY

 

 

Bruce Silverstein Gallery is pleased to present, Beyond COLOR: Color in American Photography, 1950-1970, a re-examination of a pivotal period in photography’s short history, when the artistic relevance of color in fine art photography had yet to be determined. The exhibition unites works for the first time by many of the “first generation” practitioners of color photography including artists Marie Cosindas, Arthur Seigel, Harry Callahan, Eliot Porter, Saul Leiter, Marvin E. Newman, Pete Turner, Ruth Orkin and Ernst Haas. Other highlights include images exhibited for the first time by Magnum’s first female member, Inge Morath, as well as a special slide projection of color images by Garry Winogrand, images that were never printed by the artist. Beyond COLOR attempts to reclaim this moment of photographic history that only today has begun to receive critical attention.

After the conclusion of World War II, innovations in technology combined with the public’s desire to “see the world as it is” resulted in an explosion in the usage of color imagery by the mass media. By 1951, commercial color television broadcasting had begun, and in 1954, half of all American films were made in color. In the early 1960’s color imagery was so prevalent that National Geographic magazine introduced a new era when it became the first major American periodical to print an all-color issue. While color photography during this period was widely embraced by mass culture – advertising and journalism – it continued to suffer from second-class status in the fine art world when compared with images in black & white. For most in the fine art establishment, black & white photography represented the medium of choice, steeped in a century-old tradition it was easily accessible and affordable to artists, and possessed known archival stability. For this reason, few artists chose to work in color and even fewer produced finished prints. Although color works had begun to selectively appear in museum exhibitions, most notably at the Museum of Modern Art, where single artist exhibitions of works by Eliot Porter (1943), Ernst Haas (1962) and Marie Cosindas (1966) were displayed, academic and institutional attention and support for this new technology was scant.

Over the past forty years, work in color created by artists during this formative period has received little attention. Most critical analysis through writings and exhibitions have focused on color work created during the 1970’s and 1980’s after the now famous Museum of Modern Art exhibition, Photographs by William Eggleston (1976), curated by John Szarkowski. This MoMA exhibition set the groundwork for defining a new purpose for color photography – one that focused more on the conceptual implications of the photograph and its creation, and away from the formalistic attributes of the image as well as the attention to color itself. The effects of Eggleston’s exhibition and Szarkowski’s essay reverberate to this day.

With a certain distance from this era when color photography was new – its place in the art world no longer a question – this exhibition offers a crucial consideration of works created during this period and encourages a new perspective on the significance of these artists’ contributions to the history of photography.

Text from the Bruce Silverstein Gallery website

 

Marie Cosindas. 'Amy, Boston' 1965, printed c. 2010

 

Marie Cosindas (American, b. 1923)
Amy, Boston
1965, printed c. 2010
Archival inkjet print
Signed, titled and dated on verso
11 3/4 x 16 1/2 inches
© Marie Consindas, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, NY

 

Pete Turner. 'Cigarette Butts' 1963, printed early 1970s

 

Pete Turner (American, 1934-2017)
Cigarette Butts
1963, printed early 1970s
Unique dye transfer print
Signed, titled and dated on recto
30 x 40 inches
© Pete Turner, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, NY

 

Ruth Orkin. 'Famous Malted Milk, NYC' c. 1950, printed 2010

 

Ruth Orkin (American, 1921-1985)
Famous Malted Milk, NYC
c. 1950, printed 2010
Archival inkjet print
Estate stamp on verso
Edition of 15
11 x 14 inches
ROR-00008-SP
© Ruth Orkin, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, NY

 

HAAS, Ernst (1921-1986). 'Route 66, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA' 1969, printed later

 

Ernst Haas (American, 1921-1986)
Route 66, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
1969, printed later
Chromogenic print mounted to board
Estate stamp on verso
30 x 40 inches
EHA-00898-SP
© Ernst Haas, courtesy of Bruce Silverstein Gallery, NY

 

 

Bruce Silverstein Gallery
529 W 20th St, New York,
NY 10011, United States
Phone: 212-627-3930

Opening hours:
Tuesday – Saturday
10am – 6pm

Bruce Silverstein Gallery website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, an art and cultural memory archive, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

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