Nach Oben

House of Photography at Deichtorhallen will from February 3 to April 15, 2012 be highlighting the oeuvre of 88-year-old photographer and painter Saul Leiter in the world’s first major retrospective. The exhibition covers more than 400 works and brings together in marvelous combination his early black-and-white and color photographs, fashion images, painted-over nude photographs, paintings and his sketchbooks, which have never gone on public view before. Then final chapter in the exhibition is dedicated to Saul Leiter’s most recent photographic works, which he continues to take on the streets in his neighborhood in New York’s East Village.

Saul Leiter was born in 1923 in Pittsburgh and it was not until a few years ago that his work received due recognition for its pioneering role in the emergence of color photography. As early as 1946, and thus well before the representatives of “New Color Photography” in the 1970s (such as William Eggleston and Stephen Shore) he was one of the first to use color photography, despite it being despised by artists of the day, for his free artistic shots. “The older photo-aesthetic views on the hegemony of black-and-white and the dating in photo history of the artistic use of color photography to the early 1970s need to be critically revisited. With Saul Leiter’s oeuvre, the history of photography essentially has to be rewritten,” comments curator Ingo Taubhorn.

In his photographs, the genres of street life, portraiture, still lifes, fashion and architectural photography meld. He comes across his themes, such as shop windows, passers-by, cars, signs and (a recurrent motif) umbrellas, in the direct vicinity of his apartment in New York, where he has now lived for almost 60 years. The lack of clear detail, the blurring of movement and the reduction in depth of field, the compensation for or deliberate avoidance of the necessary light as well as the alienation caused by photographing through windows and by reflections all blend to create a language of color fueled by a semi-real, semi-abstract urban space. These are the works of an as good as undiscovered modern master of color photography of the 1940s and 1950s.


Video Saul Leiter at the Deichtorhallen Hamburg

Video Catalog

Audio Künstlergespräch mit Saul Leiter


On the occasion of the exhibition Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg will publish book on Saul Leiter, edited by Ingo Taubhorn and Brigitte Woischnik. Authors: Vince Aletti, Margit Erb, Adam Levy, Rolf Nobel, Ulrich Rüter, Carrie Springer, Ingo Taubhorn, Brigitte Woischnik. Hardback with dust jacket, 23 x 28 cm, approx. 300 pages, 80 color and 40 b&w images, English & German, ISBN 978-3-86828-258-0, EUR 58.00.