Stunning Color Photography in the 1950s by Saul Leiter_trunghinhsu


Saul Leiter (1923-2013) was born in Pittsburgh. His interest in art began in his late teens, he left theology school and moved to New York to pursue painting at age 23. In New York, he befriended the Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart, who was experimenting with photography. His friendship with Pousette-Dart and soon after, with W. Eugene Smith, expanded his interest in photography.

Color photography in the 1950s by Saul Leiter
Leiter’s earliest black and white photographs show an extraordinary affinity for the medium. By the 1950s, he began to work in color as well, compiling an extensive and significant body of work during the medium’s infancy. His distinctively subdued color often has a painterly quality that stood out among the work of his contemporaries.
However, over the next four decades, Leiter’s noncommercial work remained virtually unknown to the wider art world. He continued to work as a fashion photographer through the 1970s, contributing to such publications as in ShowElle, British VogueQueen, and Nova.



Leiter is now held to be a pioneer of early color photography, and is noted as one of the outstanding figures in post-war photography. After several exhibitions at Howard Greenberg Gallery throughout the 1990s, Leiter’s work experienced a surge of popularity after a monograph, Early Color, was published by Steidl in 2006. Leiter was the subject of several solo shows thereafter, including the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, Paris; the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam; Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne; and Diechtorhallen, Hamburg.



Saul Leiter continued to paint and photograph through the end of his life. Take a look at these stunning color photos to see his work in the 1950s.
Christmas, New York, 1950


London, 1950


Man and Flowers, New York, circa 1950s


Orange Umbrella, circa 1950


Passenger, 1950


Purple Umbrella, circa 1950s


Subway Window, circa 1950s


Central Park, 1952


Don’t Walk, 1952


Pizza, Patterson, 1952


Postmen, 1952


Snowfall, New York, 1952


Shopping, circa 1953


Bus, 1954


El, New York, 1954


Foot on El, 1954


Near the Tanager, 1954


Sign Painter, 1954


Man in Straw Hat, circa 1955


Red Umbrella, circa 1955


Haircut, 1956


Hat, 1956


Taxi, 1956


Walking, 1956


Yellow Scarf, 1956


Barbershop, 1957


Red Umbrella, 1957


Taxi, New York, 1957


Through Boards, 1957


Untitled, 1957


Mirrors, circa 1958


New York, 1958


Red Composition, White Circle, 1958


Red Umbrella, 1958


Reflection, 1958


Walk with Soames, 1958


Horn & Hardart, circa 1959


Paris, 1959


Street Scene, 1959


Waiter, Paris, 1959