Thursday, May 19, 2016

Why do I so love Saul Leiter

For one thing, I seem to be unfashion-
able. Ascending the stairs one evening 
at my club at Princeton, an upper-class-
man unbuttoned the top button on my bla-
zer, announcing that we didn't do that, 
in the club. Another, confiding to me 
in his dressing gown in the club library 
one evening, spoke with sorrow at his dis-
covery that my father was "in industry."
They were pleading, Sock me, as if to say
where they were from. But I liked New York.

Saul Leiter is to photography as Arthur
Miller is to the stage. Here is a picture
of two undoubted fathers, finally going
home one evening in the city of New York.
Are they Willy Loman? Are they laughable?
But then one learns, Loman was not laugh-
able. So are they, Stoical, comrades in
certainty and respect for each other, in
the bourgeois carousel of American pros-
perity after the destruction of the world?

Are there snarky little fillips of modern-
ity: John Kennedy's My father always told
me, businessmen were sons of bitches, for
example, as American steel slid into its
uncompetitive demise? A Kennedy, on greed?

American steel. I look at this picture,
and I hear Miller tell me, all the slings
and arrows did miss the mark Leiter found.

If, after de Sica in Ladri di bicic-
lette, Leiter comes wonderfully close
to capturing our post-War father, he
is our grittier Jacques Demy from Les
parapluies de Cherbourg in saving for
us the brilliants of the city - what
our warranted jam-producer calls, the
little scarlets. Here they are, the
heels of the matron turning east at
the intersection, the compression we
somehow cherish of city life, a mash-
up of fumes and distillations of spec-
tacular vitality. Reek to me, New York.

Sock me.

1923 - 2013
Greenberg Gallery
New York

Nick Truelove


  1. He is my favorite too. Above and beyond.

    1. That is saying a great deal; you have such a strong eye of your own.

  2. He is a poet. It is all that matters. Thank you. I can't understand American politics though. It bothers me. I wish I could. I don't get the subtleties.

  3. And I love your use of pictures these days, even better than before, and it has been very all the time I have been hanging around :)

    1. You do more for our response to Leiter than any suggestion I've offered so far, and I hope we all will return to him, to look again. As for American politics, subtleties are elusive for the best of reasons, they are so few. But thank you for confidence in one's use of pictures; if your assessment is correct, it is possible that the page is old enough now to have established its pictorial characterisation, and can be more responsive to specifics. Of course, there will be lapses :) Thank you for your sustained attention to this rather simple place.

  4. Leiter makes it all seem effortless. I just read Beauty in Photography by Robert Adams. A very good read.

    I do like your poets and pictures and do not find this place simple at all. As for American, or Norwegian for that matter, politics, I do not understand the internal workings, but that may be a good sign :D ? Well, good to hear that there are very few subtleties, I have missed much then :D.

    Have a lovely Sunday! Best regards from rainy Oslo.

    1. In the mid-Atlantic US, rain is suddenly semi-officially the Weather of the Month. In Oslo, it sounds like a great day to be snug inside your ravishing Opera House. Best wishes to your evening music.