23 August, 2014

"In No Great Hurry"

I've bought the Thomas Leach movie about the New York Photographer, Saul Leiter, "In No Great Hurry - 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter." The trailer is embedded above. It's a touching portrait of an artist committed to his art, but not celebrity or fame. (Streaming and downloadable copies can be purchased from the film's website.)

Since the movie, Saul Leiter passed away (in November of last year).

Leiter did fashion photography to pay the bills; but, in addition, he took the time to take photographs of his own. We're the beneficiaries of that lifelong effort.

Leiter was one of those who worked in colour, back when black and white still ruled the art world. His book, "Early Color" is outstanding. It shows how the everyday world can afford endless opportunities for art. If the photo below has a painterly look, that may be because of Saul also being a painter.

Saul Leiter's "Waiter" Paris 1959, from "Early Color"
So, how is that a photographer who inhabits the Mt Olympus of street photography went relatively unrecognised for so many years?

Certainly, Saul was not a self-promoter in the ways of some others. I couldn't find, for example, a Saul Leiter website of Saul's own making. In the New Yorker obituary, Teju Cole reported that,
...Leiter didn’t court fame, and though he continued to work, his photographs almost vanished from public view. Then they came back to light in 2006, with “Saul Leiter: Early Color,” a monograph published by Steidl. The book brought him belated recognition, gallery representation, a stream of publications, and a new generation of fans.
Since his death there's been much activity in Saul's apartment, which constituted an archive of his work. The New Yorker has subsequently reported that,
As of last month, they [Margit Erb, his gallery representative, and Anders Goldfarb, his long-time assistant] had catalogued three thousand books, two hundred and fifty thousand negatives and slides, and a host of priceless ephemera, including Leiter’s correspondence with Diane Arbus, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Irving Penn, whose praise for “Early Color” particularly pleased Leiter. They also found a cube-shaped suitcase from the nineteen-forties filled with undeveloped slide film.
Saul Leiter is gone, but his work is still with us. Happily, it's not too late to become a Leiter fan.

(I've been gazumped by a day by Wired, reporting on the film.)

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