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Saul Leiter, In My Room

Inez (nude), date unknown © Saul Leiter Foundation, courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York

Photographer Saul Leiter, who is famous for his abstracted forms and radically innovative compositions, took intimate photographs of his muses over three decades. Deeply personal and contemplative, many of these images share tender moments underscored by the subjects’ trust in the photographer. These wonderful pictures are currently on view in a new exhibition in New York, at the Howard Greenberg gallery, and most of them are on public view for the first time.

Fed by thrilling recent discoveries from Saul Leiter’s archive, the exhibition titled In My Room reveals the world of the artist and the women in his life through his studies of the female figure. Often illuminated by the lush natural light of Leiter’s studio in New York City’s East Village, these black-and-white images uncover the mutual and empathetic collaboration between the artist and his subjects.

In the 1970s, Leiter planned to make a book of his nudes, but never realized the project in his lifetime. The exhibition and upcoming book to be published in June by Steidl offer a first-time look at this body of work, which he began on his arrival in New York in 1946 and continued throughout the next two decades. Leiter, who was also a painter, shows here another time the influence of his favorite artists – Bonnard, Vuillard, and Matisse.

The prolific Leiter, who painted and took pictures fervently up to his death, worked in relative obscurity well into his eighties. He preferred solitude in life, and resisted any type of explanation or analysis of his work. With these images, he ushers viewers into his private world while retaining his strong sense of mystery.

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