Posts Tagged ‘Photographs by William Eggleston

24
Jul
13

Exhibition: ‘At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 26th February – 28th July 2013

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1971

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1971
Dye-transfer print
31.1 x 47.7cm (12 1/4 x 18 3/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

Eggleston photographs the obvious with such candour and vigour that simple things become something more: almost interior statements of his mind evidenced in the physicality of the photograph. He may be at war with the obvious, but these are complex thoughts told in simple, eloquent ways. They are only obvious if you know how to look for them.

The peaches thrown on the roof, the rusted speculum of ‘Wonder Bread’, the turned up shoes; the use of foreshortening, the low positioning of the camera (looking up or across at ground level), the formalism of colour, the light.

Eggleston understands the essence of each scene he photographs perfectly. The child’s eye-level view of the tricycle emphasising its gigantism will always be a favourite, as will the abstract expressionist colour field of Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi) (1980, below). As with any virtuoso artist, Eggleston controls the tonality and mood of compositions beautifully: a case in point is Untitled (Memphis) (c. 1972, below) which will always remind me of a piece of Mozart piano music. It took me a while when I was growing up to like Mozart (as a concert pianist I loved the romantics such as Chopin and Debussy), but when you finally understand all the nuances contained in his music, when you finally grow to love him, you are just so full of admiration for his achievement.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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

*PLEASE NOTE THIS POSTING CONTAINS AN ART PHOTOGRAPH OF MALE NUDITY – IF YOU DO NOT LIKE PLEASE DO NOT LOOK, FAIR WARNING HAS BEEN GIVEN*

 

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Mississippi)' c. 1970

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Mississippi)
c. 1970
Dye-transfer print
25.1 x 38.3cm (9 7/8 x 15 1/16 in)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston. 'Untitled' (the artist's uncle, Adyn Schuyler Senior, with assistant Jasper Staples, in Cassidy Bayou, Sumner, Mississippi) 1969-70

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Sumner, Mississippi, Cassidy Bayou in Background)
1971 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
36.8 x 55.5cm (14 1/2 x 21 7/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled, from the portfolio 14 Pictures' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled, from the portfolio 14 Pictures
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Louisiana)' 1980 (printed 1999)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Louisiana)
1980 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
30.2 x 45.3cm (11 7/8 x 17 13/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, and Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)' 1980

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)
1980
Dye-transfer print
29.6 x 45.5cm (11 5/8 x 17 15/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

The American photographer William Eggleston (born 1939) emerged in the early 1960s as a pioneer of modern colour photography. Now, 50 years later, he is arguably its greatest exemplar. At War with the Obvious: Photographs by William Eggleston at The Metropolitan Museum of Art presents the work of this idiosyncratic artist, whose influences are drawn from disparate if surprisingly complementary sources – from Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson in photography to Bach and late Baroque music. Many of Eggleston’s most recognised photographs are lush studies of the social and physical landscape found in the Mississippi delta region that is his home. From this base, the artist explores the awesome and, at times, the raw visual poetics of the American vernacular.

The exhibition celebrates the fall 2012 acquisition of 36 dye transfer prints by Eggleston that dramatically expanded the Metropolitan Museum’s collection of this major American artist’s work. It added the entire suite of Eggleston’s remarkable first portfolio of colour photographs, 14 Pictures (1974), 15 superb prints from his landmark book, William Eggleston’s Guide (1976), and seven other key photographs that span his career.

Eggleston wrote that he was “at war with the obvious,” a statement well-represented in works such as Untitled [Peaches!] (1970) – a roadside snapshot of rocks and half-eaten fruit thrown atop a sunlit corrugated tin roof capped with a sign announcing “PEACHES!” The exhibition features a number of the artist’s signature images, including Untitled [Greenwood, Mississippi] (1980), a study that takes full advantage of the chromatic intensity of the dye-transfer colour process that, until Eggleston appropriated it in the 1960s, had been used primarily by commercial photographers for advertising product photography; and Untitled [Memphis] (1970), an iconic study of a child’s tricycle seen from below. It was the cover image of the artist’s seminal book William Eggleston’s Guide, which accompanied his landmark show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1976.

As much as Eggleston was influenced by various sources, he, too, has proved influential. His inventive photographs of commonplace subjects now endure as touchstones for generations of artists, musicians, and filmmakers from Nan Goldin to David Byrne, the Coen brothers, and David Lynch.

Press release from The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' 1970

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
1970
Dye-transfer print
30.7 x 43.8cm (12 1/16 x 17 1/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Louis V. Bell Fund; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1974

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1974
Dye-transfer print
33.1 x 48.5cm (13 1/16 x 19 1/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1983

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1983
Dye-transfer print
37 x 56cm (14 9/16 x 22 1/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' c. 1972 (printed 1986)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
c. 1972 (printed 1986)
Dye-transfer print
28.8 x 43.4cm (11 5/16 x 17 1/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled' 1984

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled
1984
Dye-transfer print
55.9 x 37.1cm (22 x 14 5/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)' 1970 (printed 1999)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Greenwood, Mississippi)
1970 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
55 x 37.1cm (21 5/8 x 14 5/8 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and Jennifer and Philip Maritz Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' c. 1972

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
c. 1972
Dye-transfer print
46 x 31cm (18 1/8 x 12 3/16 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Louis V. Bell Fund; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Near Jackson, Mississippi)' c. 1970 (printed 2002)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Near Jackson, Mississippi)
c. 1970 (printed 2002)
Dye-transfer print
60.3 x 48.9cm (23 3/4 x 19 1/4 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest; Louis V. Bell Fund; Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher, Jennifer and Philip Maritz, and Charlotte A. and William E. Ford Gifts, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

William Eggleston (American, born 1939) 'Untitled (Memphis)' 1971 (printed 1999)

 

William Eggleston (American, b. 1939)
Untitled (Memphis)
1971 (printed 1999)
Dye-transfer print
55.4 x 36.8cm (21 13/16 x 14 1/2 in.)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2012.283)
Purchase, Louis V. Bell, Harris Brisbane Dick, Fletcher, and Rogers Funds and Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, and Elizabeth S. and Robert J. Fisher Gift, 2012
© Eggleston Artistic Trust

 

 

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Phone: 212-535-7710

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18
May
13

Exhibition: ‘Saul Leiter’ at Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna

Exhibition dates: 31st January – 26th May 2013

 

Saul Leiter. 'From the El' c. 1955

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
From the El
c. 1955
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

“I like it when one is not certain of what one sees.
We don’t know why the photographer has taken such a picture.
If we look and look, we begin to see and are still left with the pleasure of uncertainty.”

.
“It is not where it is or what it is that matters, but how you see it.”

.
“After the age of 75 you should not be photographed.
You should be painted by Rembrandt or Hals, but not by Caravaggio.”

.
Saul Leiter

 

 

How brave was the photographer, occluding most of the colour image in darkness, something that had never been done before and has rarely been seen since. Look at the last three photographs in this posting to understand what I mean.

Considering that Saul Leiter’s colour photography predates William Eggleston and Stephen Shore by a couple of decades, it can truly be said that he is one of the early masters of colour photography. As the curator Ingo Taubhorn comments, The older aesthetic views on the hegemony of black-and-white photography and the historical dating of the first artistic use of colour photography to the early 1970s need to be critically reviewed. Saul Leiter’s oeuvre essentially rewrites the history of photography.”

Well said.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

.
Many thankx to the Kunst Haus Wein for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

 

Saul Leiter. 'Nude' 1970s

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Nude
1970s
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Taxi' c. 1957

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Taxi
c. 1957
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

KUNST HAUS WIEN is devoting a major retrospective to the oeuvre of the 89-year-old photographer and painter Saul Leiter. The exhibition, which was developed in cooperation with House of Photography / Deichtorhallen Hamburg, presents the wide range of this versatile artist’s works, including early black-and-white and colour photographs, fashion images, painted photographs of nudes, paintings and a number of his sketchbooks. One section of the exhibition is devoted to Saul Leiter’s most recent photographs, which he continues to take on the streets of New York’s East Village.

It is only in the last few years that Saul Leiter has received due recognition for his role as one of the pioneers of colour photography. As early as 1946, and thus well before the representatives of the so-called “new colour” photography in the 1970s, such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore, he was one of the first to use colour photography for artistic shots, despite its being frowned upon by other artists of the day. “The older aesthetic views on the hegemony of black-and-white photography and the historical dating of the first artistic use of colour photography to the early 1970s need to be critically reviewed. Saul Leiter’s oeuvre essentially rewrites the history of photography,” comments curator Ingo Taubhorn.

Saul Leiter has always considered himself both a painter and a photographer. In his painting and in his photographs he clearly tends towards abstraction and two-dimensionality. One often finds large deep-black areas, produced by shadows, taking up as much as three quarters of his photographs. Passers-by are not presented as individuals, but as blurred clouds of colour, filtered through misty panes of glass or wedged in between walls of buildings and traffic signs. The boundaries between the abstract and the representational in his paintings and photographs are virtually fluid. Saul Leiter’s street photography – a genre in which his work is matchless – is, in essence, painting metamorphosed into photography.

In Leiter’s works, the genres of street photography, portraiture, still life, fashion photography and architectural photography coalesce. He finds his motifs, such as shop windows, passers-by, cars, signs and – time and again – umbrellas, in the direct vicinity of his apartment in New York, where he has now lived for almost 60 years. The indeterminateness of detail, the blurring of movement and reduced depth of field, the use of shadows or deliberate avoidance of the necessary light, as well as the alienation caused by photographing through windows or as reflections, all combine to create the muted colour vocabulary of a semi-real, semiabstract urban space. These are the works of an as yet almost undiscovered modern master of colour photography.

 

About Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter discovered his passion for art at an early age and started painting as a teenager at the end of the 1940s. His family did not support him in his artistic endeavours; his father, a renowned Talmudic rabbi and scholar, had always hoped his son Saul would one day follow him in the family tradition and become a rabbi. Leiter was self-taught, but by no means uneducated. He read and learned a great deal about art, so that his knowledge and understanding constantly grew. In this way, he made sure that his own ideas and artistic works were duly related to the historical context.

In 1946, shortly after he had moved to New York, Leiter became acquainted with Richard Poussette-Dart, who introduced him to photography, a medium that appealed to Leiter very much and that he quickly made his own. Leiter soon resolved to use photography not only as a means of making art but as a way of earning a living. He started taking fashion photographs, and thanks to his good eye, his playful sense of humour, and his pronounced sense of elegance, swiftly emerged as an extraordinary fashion photographer. In the 1950s, Life magazine published photo spreads of Saul Leiter’s first black-and-white series. He took part in exhibitions, for example “Always the Young Strangers” (1953) curated by Edward Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art. From 1958 to 1967, Leiter worked for Harper’s Bazaar. Altogether he spent some 20 years photographing for various classic magazines as well as more recent ones: after Esquire and Harper’s he also worked for Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen and Nova.

 

Saul Leiter. 'New York' 1950s

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
New York
1950s
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Sign Painter' 1954

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Sign Painter
1954
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Graffiti Heads' 1950

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Graffiti Heads
1950
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Shirt' 1948

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Shirt
1948
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Harlem' 1960

 

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

 

Saul Leiter. 'Hat' 1956

 

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

 

Saul Leiter. 'Street Scene' 1957

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Street Scene
1957
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

The exhibition chapters

Abstract Painting

Although his photographic oeuvre has dominated his image as an artist, Saul Leiter sees himself first and foremost as a painter. He began his artistic career as a painter, and while working as a photographer he never stopped painting and drawing. Leiter’s passion for art began when he was just a child, even though his ambitions received no support from his family. As a teenager he spent many hours in libraries studying art books. He found inspiration in the paintings of such artists as Vermeer, Bonnard, Vuillard and Picasso, as well as in Japanese graphic art. Leiter, who was self-taught, painted his first pictures in 1940. Most of them were lyrical, abstract compositions that reflected his admiration for the new American avant-garde. His ardent feeling for colour is recognisable even in these early paintings, as is his lifelong predilection for painting small format pastels and watercolours on paper.

After moving to New York in 1946, he sometimes presented his works together with abstract expressionist painters such as Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston. His studio was located on 10th Street in the East Village, which at that time was a neighbourhood very popular with avant-garde artists. Leiter shared these artists’ interest in abstraction and the use of colour, gesture and the element of chance, but he chose a radically different format for his works. Whereas many of his contemporaries, such as Jasper Johns or Franz Kline, painted wall-sized paintings that physically filled the beholder’s entire field of vision, Leiter worked in an intimate, small format. His works were also exhibited at the Tanager Gallery, one of the most important artist-run cooperatives in the East Village at that time. After switching the main focus of his work to photography in the late 1940s, however, Leiter stopped exhibiting his paintings.

 

Figurative Painting

Saul Leiter’s abstract painting frequently unites qualities of intimacy and familiarity with a sense of space reminiscent of an open landscape. Occasionally he also makes figurative sketches. Often these give mere intimations of a face or a body, perhaps a pointed nose, eyes and a mouth. Some of his male figures wear hats, similar to those worn by the religious Jews that peopled Leiter’s world in his youth. Most of these works focus on a single figure; only occasionally do we see a couple, or several figures grouped together. The quality of the line and the subtle suggestion of figures or heads in these paintings are reminiscent of paintings by Édouard Vuillard and Pierre Bonnard, in which facial features are hinted at through lines and fine shadings of colour rather than being defined by careful modelling.

 

Street Photography

When, in 1947, Saul Leiter attended an exhibition of works by the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, he became convinced of the creative potential of this medium. He bought himself a 35mm Leica camera at a bargain and began, without any previous training, to take photographs on the streets of New York. At first he used only black-and-white film, but in 1948 he also started using colour film. His black-and-white photographs exhibit some elements of documentary photography but are nevertheless far removed from a photojournalistic style. Rather, they are subjective observations, often concentrating on a single individual in the big city. Leiter’s complex, multilayered works evoke feelings of alienation, melancholy and tension. Leiter underscores this impression by experimenting with strong contrasts, light and shadow, and asymmetrical compositions containing large areas in which the images are blurred.

Thematically and stylistically, there are great similarities between Leiter’s works and the works of other representatives of New York street photography of the same era, for example Ted Croner, Leon Levinstein, Louis Faurer and later Robert Frank and William Klein, today generally known as the New York School. Their radical new, subjective photography had a psychological component that revealed an unusual sensitivity to social turbulences and the uncertainty felt by many Americans during the years following the Second World War.

 

Colour Photography

Until well into the 1970s, colour photography was used almost exclusively for advertising and fashion magazines. Many photographers considered the vivid colours unsuitable for artistic expression. Moreover, they were unable to develop their colour film themselves, which made it a very expensive undertaking. It was not until 1976 that the Museum of Modern Art in New York gave its first exhibition devoted to colour photography, when it presented “Photographs by William Eggleston”.

Saul Leiter was one of the few photographers who did not reject colour photography. As a painter, he took a particular interest in street photography as a genre in which to experiment with colour film. As early as 1948, at the beginning of his career, he bought his first roles of 35mm Kodachrome colour slide film, which had been on the market since 1936. In order to save money, he often used film that had passed its sell-by date. Leiter particularly liked the resulting pictures with their delicate, muted colours.

The innumerable early colour photographs that Leiter took between 1948 and 1960 are of a unique painterly and narrative quality. They stand in contrast to the works of other photographers, in which colour is often the defining element of the composition. This circumstance, coupled with Leiter’s tendency towards abstraction, links Leiter’s photography with his painting. But in contrast to his painting (and his black-and-white photographs), his colour photographs are highly structured. It is the incomparable beauty of these works that has brought Leiter recognition as one of the masters of 20th-century photography.

 

Fashion Photography

In the late 1950s, Saul Leiter worked successfully in the fields of fashion photography and advertising. From the very first, his style was unmistakeable. His images were multilayered and complex, characterised by soft, impressionistic qualities and cubist changes of perspective. He was given his first commercial assignment in 1958 by Henry Wolf, at that time the new Art Director of Harper’s Bazaar, with whom Leiter became friends. Harper’s Bazaar was one of the leading American fashion magazines, presenting trail-blazing fashion series by photographers such as Richard Avedon or Lillian Bassman.

Subsequently, Leiter was given more and more prestigious assignments, and over the years began to spend almost all his time doing commercial work. Apart from Harper’s Bazaar, his fashion and advertising photos appeared in Elle and Show, in British Vogue and Queen and also in Nova. The amazing thing is that during this period, Leiter managed to retain his own narrative, stylised aesthetic, whereas other fashion photographers favoured a rather brittle, graphic style. In the 1970s, partly due to his own dwindling interest in commercial photography, Leiter received fewer and fewer assignments. In 1981 he gave up his studio on Fifth Avenue and in the following years led a quiet life far from the public eye.

 

Saul Leiter. 'Carol Brown, 'Harper's Bazaar'' c. 1958

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Carol Brown, ‘Harper’s Bazaar’
c. 1958
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Soames Bantry, 'Nova'' 1960

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Soames Bantry, ‘Nova’
1960
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Walking' 1956

 

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

 

Saul Leiter. 'Reflection' 1958

 

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

 

 

“I spent a great deal of my life being ignored. I was always very happy that way. Being ignored is a great privilege. That is how I think I learnt to see what others do not see and to react to situations differently. I simply looked at the world, not really prepared for anything.”

.
Saul Leiter

 

 

Art critic Roberta Smith wrote in 2005: “Mr. Leiter was a photographer less of people than of perception itself. His painter’s instincts served him well in his emphasis on surface, spatial ambiguity and a lush, carefully calibrated palette. But the abstract allure of his work doesn’t rely on soft focus, a persistent, often irritating photographic ploy, or the stark isolation of details, in the manner of Aaron Siskind or early Harry Callahan. Instead, Mr. Leiter captured the passing illusions of everyday life with a precision that might almost seem scientific, if it weren’t so poetically resonant and visually layered.”

Text from the Lens Culture website [Online] Cited 15/05/2013 no longer available online

 

Saul Leiter. 'Shopping' c. 1953

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Shopping
c. 1953
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Kutztown' 1948

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Kutztown
1948
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

Saul Leiter. 'Pizza, Patterson' 1952

 

Saul Leiter (American, 1923-2013)
Pizza, Patterson
1952
© Saul Leiter / Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

 

 

KUNST HAUS WIEN
Museum Hundertwasser
Untere Weißgerberstraße 13
1030 Vienna
Phone: +43-1-712 04 91

Opening hours:
Daily, 10am – 7pm

Kunst Haus Wein 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, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr 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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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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