Saul LEITER, Gumball machines Enlarge 1 /1


United States of America 1923 – 2013

Gumball machines 1955 Creation Notes: printed c.1999
Materials & Technique: photographs, direct positive colour photograph

Primary Insc: Signed, titled and dated in ink on print verso
Dimensions: image 34.3 h x 22.8 w cm sheet 35.5 h x 27.9 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2000
Accession No: NGA 2000.382
Image rights: © Saul Leiter/Courtesy Hoard Greenberg Gallery

Saul Leiter is the son of a rabbi and distinguished Talmudic scholar and he began studies at Cleveland Theological College but left to move to New York to pursue a career as a painter. He started taking photographs on the streets of New York around 1947, becoming an important member of the New York School, though his approach and the general feeling of his photographs differ from other members. Whereas for instance the students of Alexey Brodovitch aimed for graphic impact in their work, Leiter’s is distinguished by its reticence, intimacy and quiet lyricism.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Although primarily a painter, Leiter started to photograph the streets of New York around 1947; although he worked in black-and-white and colour, he is most recognised for his extensive body of 35mm-format colour photographs. Leiter was associated with the Abstract Expressionist group and his photographs reflect the influence of abstraction. They also have a distinct Japanese aesthetic, evident through the use of a subdued palette and extensive use of negative space, by which means his images acquire an intimacy and quiet lyricism.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra