ONLINE DOSSIER: SAUL LEITER
This is an exercise I did for Speaking Critically:
Dear Mr. Leiter.
I just watched the documentary film In No Great Hurry, which Tomas Leach made about you.
Do you know this phenomenon, when you enjoy an artist’s work and you start thinking you know that person behind those works? And then you research that person and find a picture of them or even an interview, and you start disliking them? How disappointed you are and all of a sudden, you also see their work in a different way?
This did not happen, when I watched this movie.
You seem just as sensitive and humble, yet also humorous, just as your photographs suggest.
I came across your photography years ago, when I worked as an art director for a car company. At that time, car photography was highly edited, perfectly sharp and so extremely artificial, that the usual assumption was, that every image was a CGI rendering. I tried to change that and included your images into my briefings.
Later, when I focused on my own photography, I again looked at your images, which gave me the courage to embrace the simplicity of an everyday situation yet finding exactly that special moment to make a poetic photograph.
I still think it takes some courage to present a “simple” image.
Also, the way you work with people in your photographs, is the same approach I often have: It’s not about the individuals or exactly that person. The person stands for a more general view of a human. Possibly just a formal reason, like the shape or the color of their clothes, but hardly every about a specific person. Anonymity. Is that a statement about living in New York? Or your own disconnection?
The articles I read about you say, that you got “discovered” in 2006. But you worked as a painter and photographer your whole life and collaborated with photographers of your time, like Robert Frank and Diane Arbus in the 1940 and 50s, then worked as a fashion photographer for 20 years. How ironic is that? Yet, seeing you in the documentary, seeing how humble you are, I understand it.
Thank you for your beautiful photography and the way you see the world. You have a precious view and I am thankful for you capturing that. I imagine that you really loved life. Sadly, you passed away in 2013, just months after the release of the documentary.
Unrelated to your work, seeing you in the movie reminded me so much of my grandfather and how much I miss him.
Just on a side note: I absolutely loved seeing how chaotic your apartment is.