SAUL LEITER by François Halard
In 2015, François Halard (b. 1961, French) visited Saul Leiter’s almost empty apartment in the East Village, two years after Leiter's passing in 2013. Halard photographed the decrepit walls, the empty closet, and the few objects Saul Leiter had left behind.
'I receive a phone call from my friend Suzanne. She tells me that she has just bought her neighbor's apartment and asks me if I have any interest in photographing its interior. The apartment is situated two steps from my very apartment, on the same street, 10th Street, in New York City's East Village. The address she gives me corresponds to the studio and apartment of Saul Leiter.'
Saul Leiter (1923–2013) was an American painter and photographer whose work was deeply connected to New York's East Village, a neighborhood he lived in for more than 55 years. His photography, at times abstract but always soulful, constitutes a record of street scenes both monochrome and in color. After the release of his first photobook in 2006 - fifty years after he began photographing - Leiter has earned worldwide reputation as a pioneer of color photography.
Leiter himself would have resented title, he simply happened to have his camera with him, never particularly planning to take photographs. As he explained in the 2011 documentary In No Great Hurry: 'I don't know if I’m going to get what I’m going to get'.
'In this empty—or almost empty—apartment, I find a few of the things that Leiter has left behind: a high-back chair where he sat to paint and to drink his coffee, a light box posed on a wooden pedestal table, a large box of expired Kodak paper, Noguchi lanterns, and his hat.'
François Halard manages to catch the spirit of Saul Leiter. With each page turned, one expects Leiter himself to appear in the next spread. Yet the rooms remain beautifully empty, except for a few of ; portrait photographs that Halard arranged as part of the interior - a deviation from Halard's usual method, which strictly prohibits human elements to appear in his photography.
'Your photographs make me smile because I remember how Saul always dreamed of being a minimalist. He told me a number of times he wished for just a room with nothing in it except a bed, a bedside table, and one book.' (Margit Erb, director of the Saul Leiter Foundation)
This photography series is Halard’s homage to Saul Leiter.
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