Saul Leiter: In My Room
One might be familiar with Saul Leiter’s unconventional and distinctive color work of the 1950s and 60s street photography, however, this book of black-and-white nudes by Leiter was a true surprise and delight. It reveals a charming, unbridled spirit that continues to echo across the decades in its approach, and has a distinct flavor of innocent fun.
Saul Leiter was simultaneously a down-to-earth unpretentious photographer who also had the keen eye of a painter who relished the way light spilled over his subjects, defined forms in monochrome tones or diffused color into muted tones in street photography.
In this day and age it is too easy to superficially view this collection of photographs from a cynical point of view but in truth what comes across is a kind of bravado, a flagrant joie de vivre that is disarming in the thumbing of its nose at conventionality.
In this wonderful collection Leiter used black-and-white film in his discrete camera to capture nude young women in a very playful, spontaneous, unguarded and mostly unposed fashion that attests to the trusting relationship with the photographer. It is not mere nude photography; when these young women look directly into the camera there is an unmanufactured honesty that comes across that flies in the face of typical studio or fashion photography. These are intimate portraits that beckon you in.
Leiter was inspired by the work of W. Eugene Smith and associated with Robert Frank (The Americans) and Diane Arbus (Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph). It is no exaggeration to say that Leiter was a master of the kind of tasteful, revealing portraiture displayed in these pages.
Leiter was the son of a Talmudic scholar, and although he studied to become a rabbi found his true calling in photography and art.
Saul Leiter: In My Room is a small book displaying the work on 8-inch square pages whose very size invites the viewer to an intimate examination. The images are lovingly and expertly reproduced in a broad dynamic range from delicate gray tones to rich blacks, and is beautifully printed on heavy matte paper by master printer Steidl.