Posts Tagged ‘photos of New York City 1950s’

Saul Leiter’s haunting street photographs

April 25, 2011

New York has never had a shortage of photographers chronicling the city’s moods and moments.

But Saul Leiter’s 1940s and 1950s color photos are something else, even among his New York School contemporaries.

Born in 1923, Leiter came to New York from Pittsburgh. With no training, he made a living shooting fashion magazine spreads.

On his own, he walked the streets with his camera—often an expired roll of color film inside, which created pictures with muted colors.

He captured fluid fragments of otherwise unremarkable city life that make haunting, unsentimental images.

[At left, “Yellow Scarf,” 1956; above, “Frank’s Pizza,” 1952]

In a 2009 interview with Photographers Speak, Leiter responded to a comment about his work representing the alienation of the city with this:

“I never thought of the urban environment as isolating. I leave these speculations to others.

“It is quite possible that my work represents a search for beauty in the most prosaic and ordinary places.

“One doesn’t have to be in some faraway dreamland in order to find beauty. I realize that the search for beauty is not highly popular these days. Agony, misery, and wretchedness, now these are worth pursuing.”

[above: “Postmen,” 1952]