Archive for November, 2016

Photography | Saul Leiter’s Fragmented Fashion

Friday, November 25th, 2016

Harper’s Bazaar, Mexico (fashion), 1960



Saul Leiter
Gallery Fifty One Too
Antwerp | Belgium
25 November 2016 > 28 January 2017



Carriage SeriesHarper’s Bazaar, October 1960



You don’t look at a Jackson Pollock painting; you don’t look at a Willem de Kooning. You look into them. The same is true of these titans of abstract expressionism’s contemporary and close associate, Saul Leiter’s photographic work, in which the subject is often fragmented, obscured by reflections, condensed between surfaces, or otherwise obstructed by passers-by and blurred incidental foreground detail.

Drawn to surfaces and textures, to shapes and shadows, and to the fluid expanses between the abstract and the figurative, Leiter, speaking of the ambiguity that runs through his work, once said: ‘I like it when one is not certain what one sees. When we do not know why the photographer has taken a picture, and when we do not know why we are looking at it, all of a sudden we discover something that we start seeing. I like this confusion.’

Self-portrait with Deborah



Untitled, 1950s



Leiter (1923 > 2013), born in Pittsburgh, had moved to New York in 1946 intending to be a painter – in the early days he exhibited alongside de Kooning – and although he continued to paint throughout his life, he became engrossed with the creative potential of photography as an art form. Starting with black and white, by the early 1950s he was successfully experimenting with colour, and in 1953 a substantial group of his colour photographs were selected by Edward Steichen for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

Carol Brown, Harper’s Bazaar, c 1960



Perhaps on the basis of his street photography – for which he is best-known – of New York’s East Village, where he lived and worked for more than 60 years, Leiter has been lumped in with the amorphous ‘New York School of Photography’, which is said to have included, among others, pragmatic photojournalists such as Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Bruce Davidson, Robert Frank, William Klein, Helen Levitt, and Weegee. Leiter, however, who happened to reside in the city over the same period as them, was light on social realism. He possessed a sensibility that was rooted more firmly in fine art, and while stylistically his work was closer to the ‘New York School’ painters, his lyrical treatment of subject matter had much in common with the gentler compositions of an earlier epoch: that of the Impressionists, and with the paintings of French symbolist artist Pierre Bonnard (1867 > 1947), who endeavoured to evoke mystical ideas, emotions, and states of mind via the medium of scenes from everyday life.

Barbara, c 1951



In the late 1950s, recognising Leiter’s unique eye for beauty and elegance combined with a modern edge, art director Henry Wolf commissioned him to photograph fashion, first for Esquire and later for Harper’s Bazaar as well as for Show. Very soon Leiter was working in Europe for the French magazine Elle, and in Britain for Vogue, Queen, and Nova. Nevertheless, the fickleness of the fashion world ensured that his good fortune didn’t last, and he sank into a lengthy period of obscurity. In time, however, his reputation was restored after several exhibitions at New York’s Howard Greenberg Gallery in the 1990s, when his work experienced a new surge of popularity and his colour photography, in particular, garnered wide acclaim. A monograph, Early Color, was published by Steidl in 2006 and was quickly followed by a series of international exhibitions, beginning with In Living Color (2006), at the Milwaukee Museum of Art. Solo shows of Leiter’s photography have since been presented at Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris, the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, and Diechtorhallen, Hamburg. His work is now included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among many other public and private collections.

Carmen, Harper Bazaar, c 1960



Saul Leiter at Gallery Fifty One Too in Antwerp, which has regularly shown Leiter’s work, runs concurrently with the city’s FOMU Foto Museum retrospective. The majority of the photographs included in the Gallery Fifty One Too exhibition, however, have never been presented before, and provide insight into less familiar elements of the photographer’s diverse oeuvre, particularly his work for fashion magazines.

All photographs © Saul Leiter Foundation, courtesy Gallery Fifty One


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The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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Exhibitions | Josef Albers’ Bauhaus Photocollages

Friday, November 11th, 2016

Untitled (Bullfight, San Sebastian), 1930/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



El Lissitzky, Dessau, 1930/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



One and One Is Four:
The Bauhaus Photocollages
of Josef Albers
Museum of Modern Art
NYC | USA
23 November 2016 > 2 April 2017



Anyone interested in the roots of modern graphic design will be aware of the ground-breaking work of Moholy-Nagy and Herbert Bayer at the Bauhaus in the 1920s; the name of their fellow Bauhaus master, Josef Albers (American, born Germany 1888 > 1976, best-known for his signature Homage to the Square series, 1950 > 1976) wouldn’t come immediately to everyone’s mind. A new exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and a new book, however, while demonstrating Albers’ importance as a modernist photographer – an aspect of his work that remained largely hidden until after his death – more importantly, shows how Albers’ dynamic juxtaposing of images, assembled with the object of relating a story in immediate, visual terms, foreshadowed the photojournalistic layouts which would begin to appear in the mid-1930s in magazines such as the legendary and highly-influential VU.

Marli Heimann, All During an Hour, 1931/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



Paris, Eiffel Tower, 1929/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



Paul Klee, Dessau, 1929/1932
Gelatin silver prints mounted on board



One and One Is Four: The Bauhaus Photocollages of Josef Albers, a new installation featuring 16 photocollages, is on view at The Museum of Modern Art, while the book of the same title by Sarah Hermanson Meister, with 140 pages and 120 colour and duotone illustrations, is published by MoMA and by Thames & Hudson outside the US and Canada.

All images by Josef Albers, from the Museum of Modern Art collection, courtesy MoMA, © 2016 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo John Wronn


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The Blog is about art, architecture, books, design and gardens, and anything else that currently interests us that we think might interest you

The Blog’s publishers insist that all images supplied for publication in our posts are cleared for that use before being sent to us. Whether pictures are sent to us as email attachments or made available as downloadable files, any responsibility for fees that may, under any circumstances whatsoever, fall due, must be borne by the source supplier


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