Saul Leiter.

December 13, 2014 – March 1, 2015
Opening hours: Tuesday–Sunday 11am–6pm,
Wednesday 11am–8pm, Monday closed
Admission fees

Saul Leiter

Photo: Saul Leiter, Red Umbrella, ca. 1958, © Estate of Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Saul Leiter

Photo: Saul Leiter, Harlem, 1960, © Estate of Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Saul Leiter

Photo: Saul Leiter, Taxi, ca. 1957, © Estate of Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Saul Leiter

Photo: Saul Leiter, One of my favorites, ca. 1960 (Painting), © Estate of Saul Leiter, Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

It was not until a few years ago that the work of photographer and painter Saul Leiter received due recognition for its pioneering role in the emergence of colour photography. As early as 1946, and thus long 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 colour photography for his personal work, despite it being avoided by most artists of the day.

From December 13, 2014 to March 1, 2015 Fotografie Forum Frankfurt is showing Saul Leiter. Retrospective. The exhibition includes more than 100 works and brings together a marvellous combination of his early black-and-white and colour street photography, fashion images, paintings, and his sketchbooks. Also on view are the works, which he made throughout the last years of his life, on the streets in his neighbourhood in New York’s East Village. Saul Leiter died shortly before his 90th birthday in 2013. This exhibition curated by Ingo Taubhorn and Brigitte Woischnik is a cooperation with the House of Photography, Deichtorhallen Hamburg and the Saul Leiter Foundation, under the direction of Margit Erb.

Saul Leiter always saw himself as both painter and photographer. In his paintings and in his photographs he tended toward abstraction with an emphasis on surfaces. In many works, large planes of deep black caused by shadows can take up as much as three quarters of the photographs. Often passers-by are not as individuals, but as blurred impressions of colour, behind panes of glass or wedged between house walls and traffic signs. He expresses a fluid transition between the abstract and the figurative in his paintings and photographs. Saul Leiter’s very unique street photography, is actually painting that has become photography, as Rolf Nobel writes in the book accompanying the exhibition.

In his photographs, the genres of street life, portraiture, still lives, fashion and architectural photography meld into a mixture. His subjects, such as shop windows, passers-by, cars, signs and umbrellas, were found in the direct vicinity of his apartment in New York, where he lived for almost 60 years. Characteristically his images are created by the absence of clear details, the blurring of movement and the reduction in the depth of field, the compensation for low light or the often deliberate avoidance of the light. These aspects as well as a sense of alienation caused by photographing through windows or the use of reflections all blend to create a picture language of colour, fuelled by a semi-real, semi-abstract urban space. These works epitomize this re-discovered modern master of colour photography of the 1940s and 1950s.

The accompanying book to this exhibition, “Saul Leiter – Retrospektive”, published by Kehrer Verlag, edited by Ingo Taubhorn and Brigitte Woischnik, designed by Detlev Pusch, includes texts by Vince Aletti, Margit Erb, Adam Harrison Levy, Rolf Nobel, Ulrich Rüter, Carrie Springer, Ingo Taubhorn and Brigitte Woischnik. It is available in hardcover with 296 pages and 155 illustrations, in German/English for 58 Euro.

“Saul Leiter. Retrospektive” is a cooperation of the House of Photography at Deichtorhallen Hamburg and Fotografie Forum Frankfurt. This extensive retrospective of Saul Leiter‘s oeuvre was curated by Ingo Taubhorn and Brigitte Woischnik in close cooperation with the artist before he died and with Margit Erb, Director Saul Leiter Foundation. This exhibition was first exhibited in Hamburg in 2012, where it then travelled to Kunsthaus Wien.

Special Events

Saturday, December 13, 11 am
Guided tour with the curators Ingo Taubhorn and Brigitte Woischnik through the exhibition “Saul Leiter. Retrospektive”
The tour will be held in German.

Friday, January 23, 2015, 6 pm
Lecture “Hommage an Saul Leiter”
Margit Erb , Director Saul Leiter Foundation, and Brigitte Woischnik , co-curator of the exhibition, introduce the artist and person Saul Leiter.
The lecture will be held in German and in English.

This exhibition has been kindly supported by
Marek and Inge Lieberberg and


Saul Leiter

Saul Leiter (*1923 in Pittsburgh, †2013 in New York) discovered his passion for art early on and began painting as a teenager at the end of the 1940s. His family did not support him in his artistic endeavours as his father, a renowned Talmudic rabbi and scholar, 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. Through reading he advanced his knowledge and understanding of art constantly. In this way, he could be certain that his own thought and artistic efforts were related to a historical context, as Carrie Springer, curator at the Whitney Museum in New York, points out in the catalogue.

In 1946, shortly after he had moved to New York, Leiter got to know the artist Richard Poussette-Dart, who introduced him to photography, a medium that Leiter was fond of and which he quickly made his own. Leiter soon resolved to make use of photography not only as a means of making art but as a way of earning a living. Thanks to his good eye, his playful sense of humour, and his pronounced sense of elegance, Leiter swiftly emerged as an extraordinary fashion photographer.

In the 1950s, “LIFE” magazine published photo spreads of Saul Leiter’s first black-and-white images. His photographs were included in the exhibition “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”. All in all he was to spend some 20 years photographing for both these classic magazines and more recent ones, such as “Esquire”, “Harper’s”, “Show”, “Elle”, “British Vogue”, “Queen” and “Nova”.