— I am very fond of my sketchbooks that I began in the 50s and still work on today. I think there is a certain freedom when you are absorbed in painting a sketchbook. You are not burdened to do something important. You are not dealing in big things. You are just thinking and the sketchbooks are a way to express your thinking. They are very intimate. I work on my sketchbooks almost every day. If I had to choose what I value the most in my work I might choose my sketchbooks. Here are two of my favorite sketchbooks. There are four here which are just covers titled, My Father and I. The other is Sketchbook #1 which I hope to publish as a book one day. Some of my sketchbooks will be on display at my show at the Deichtorhallen House of Photography, Hamburg in February 2012.
Saul Leiter was born in Pittsburgh in 1923, the son of a rabbi. Leiter’s interest in art began in his late teens, and at 23, he quit theology school and moved to New York to pursue painting. That year he met the Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart, who was experimenting with photography. Leiter’s friendship with Pousette-Dart and, soon after, with W. Eugene Smith inspired his involvement with photography. Leiter’s earliest black and white photographs show an extraordinary affinity for the medium, and by the 1950s he also began to work in color. Edward Steichen included 23 of Leiter’s black and white photographs in the exhibition, ALWAYS THE YOUNG STRANGER at the Museum of Modern Art in 1953. Leiter’s first exhibition of color photography was held in the 1950s at the Artist’s Club-a meeting place for many of the Abstract Expressionist painters of that time. In the late 1950s the art director Henry Wolf published Leiter’s color fashion work in Esquire and later in Harper’s Bazaar. Leiter continued to work as a fashion photographer for the next 20 years and was also published in Show, Elle, British Vogue, Queen, and Nova. Leiter’s work is featured in the book THE NEW SCHOOL: PHOTOGRAPHS 1936-1963 by Jane Livingston and in APPEARANCES: FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY SINCE 1945 by Martin Harrison. His work is in the collections of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Art Institute of Chicago; The Baltimore Museum of Art; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and other public and private collections. A major retrospective of Leiter’s work will be on show at Hamburg’s Deichtorhallen Museum, from February 2 – April 22, 2012