Saul Leiter - Photographs London Thursday, May 20, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Extract from In No Great Hurry: 13 Lessons in Life with Saul Leiter by Tomas Leach

    'I happen to believe in the beauty of simple things. I believe that the most uninteresting thing can be very interesting.' —Saul Leiter

    Snow is arguably the most iconic work by master colour photographer Saul Leiter who instinctively transformed seemingly commonplace moments, taken in New York’s East Village where he lived for 60 years, into powerful visual poetry. Through a misty window dripping with condensation, we find a semi-real, semi-abstract figure standing in the snow. Head bent, he is focused on his daily business, as the golden blur of a truck passes behind him on the road. Considering himself both a painter and a photographer, Leiter’s preference for abstraction and two-dimensionality is evident. 


    Saul Leiter in front of his painting, circa 1977 © Saul Leiter Foundation

    In this lyrical street scene, his signature devices – blurring, framing, photographing through glass and muted colour palette – all combine to create his distinctive visual language. As early as 1946 – over two decades before William Eggleston and Stephen Shore’s so-called ‘new colour photography’ of the 1970s – Leiter was using Kodachrome colour slide film for his personal work at a time when colour photography was solely associated with commercial advertising rather than fine art.


    Exhibition poster for Saul Leiter – Retrospective at Kunstfoyer Munich, 2019

    Since its appearance in Leiter’s first monograph, Early Color, in 2006, Snow has been used as the poster image for every retrospective exhibition and has graced the cover of two books on his work. His pioneering use of colour continues to gain recognition worldwide with his exhibitions in Europe and Japan that have taken place since his death in November 2013, breaking attendance records at their respective museums. In 2020, the Saul Leiter Foundation discovered close variants of Snow while cataloguing Leiter’s enormous Kodachrome slide archive. This image can now, with greater accuracy, be dated to February 1970 and not 1960 as it was previously believed. The original Kodachrome for this image has never been found.


    Exhibition install of Photographer Saul Leiter: A Retrospective at Bunkamura Museum, Tokyo, 2017 © Yuya Furukawa

    The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art each holds a smaller-sized print of this image.

    • Provenance

      The Estate of Saul Leiter

    • Exhibited

      In Living Color: Photographs by Saul Leiter, Milwaukee Art Museum, 28 September 2006 - 21 January 2007, another
      Saul Leiter, Fondation Cartier-Bresson, Paris, 17 January - 13 April 2008, another
      Saul Leiter, Kunst Haus Wien, Vienna, 31 January - 26 May 2013, another
      Saul Leiter: Retrospective, Haus der Photographie, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, 3 February - 15 April 2012; Fotografie Forum, Frankfurt, 13 December 2014 - 1 March 2015; The Photographers' Gallery, London, 22 January - 3 April 2016; FOMU, Antwerp, 28 October 2016 - 29 January 2017; Kunstfoyer, Munich, 5 June - 15 September 2019, another
      Photographer Saul Leiter: A Retrospective, Bunkamura Museum, Tokyo, 29 April - 25 June 2017; Itami City Museum, 7 April - 20 May 2018; Bandaijima Art Museum, Niigata, 9 March - 9 May 2019, another
      Saul Leiter: In Search of Beauty, Foto Colectania, Barcelona, 29 June - 21 October 2018, another

    • Literature

      Saul Leiter: Early Color, Göttingen: Steidl, 2006, n.p.
      Saul Leiter: Photo Poche, Paris: Actes Sud, 2007, cover
      Saul Leiter, Göttingen: Steidl, 2008, p. 88
      Saul Leiter, London: Thames & Hudson, 2008, cover
      Saul Leiter: Retrospective, Berlin: Kehrer, 2012, p. 43
      All About Saul Leiter, Kyoto: Seigensha, 2017, p. 45




February 1970
Chromogenic print, printed later.
Image: 48.2 x 32.3 cm (18 7/8 x 12 3/4 in.)
Sheet: 50.8 x 40.4 cm (20 x 15 7/8 in.)

Signed and numbered AP3 in ink on the verso.

This work is AP3 from the sold-out edition of 10 + 3 APs.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 25,000 

Sold for £18,900

Contact Specialist

Rachel Peart
Head of Department, London

Yuka Yamaji
Head of Photographs, Europe

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+44 20 7318 4092



London Auction 20 May 2021