Archive for Saul Leiter

On How The Internet Sucks Our Photos Into The Machine

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2015 by johnbuckley100

IceCreamMan (1 of 1)

In 2013, this image we took of a DC ice cream man was chosen in a juried competition at D.C.’s Leica Store, and happily we posted it online.  Someone who knew the ice cream man saw the image hanging on the Leica Store’s walls, told him about it, and a few weeks later, we met him on the Mall and handed him a print.  He’s a nice guy.

So you can imagine how we felt when someone alerted us to this story posted by The Onion last week.  There was our ice cream man photo, appropriated, albeit with credit to Tulip Frenzy.  But still.  And of course, there is no way we would have approved this use in a satirical post.

Then yesterday, while going through our Twitter feed, we saw from American Suburb X “A Brief Interview With Saul Leiter,” which of course we clicked on, since we love Saul Leiter’s work.  In fact, we love Saul Leiter’s work so much that in 2014 we posted on Twitter our homage to Saul Leiter, which we called “Homage To Saul Leiter: The Kiss”:

The Kiss

Imagine our surprise, and yes, mortification, when we saw that our image was illustrating the interview with Leiter.  American Suburb X took it down when we pointed this out, and told us that they’d gotten it off of Google Images.  And yep, the way Google sucks content into the machine, by my having posted the picture as an “Homage To Saul Leiter: The Kiss” somehow it now showed up in HIS image feed.  Ugh.

The Internet giveth and it taketh away.  Our son has reported Instagram photos he’s taken being appropriated by others.  This easy skimming of images for use by others is, we suppose, something we have to accept.  Our examples aren’t exactly like Richard Prince making millions off of a stolen Sam Abell photograph, but the whole thing sucks.

Split Screen

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 25, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Even in Africa, thinking of the remarkable Saul Leiter.  Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph.

Tulip Frenzy SBG 6

Saul Leiter: Early Black and White Is Out, And Adds To Our Appreciation Of His Genius

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 3, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Saul Leiter: Early Color

When Saul Leiter died over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2013, he finally got the full appreciation for his artistry that he had always deserved: a big New York Times obit, a loving remembrance in The New Yorker, an outpouring.  He was honored in death beyond the recognition he had received in life.

It’s tempting to think of him as a version of Vivian Maier who at least lived to be discovered in his lifetime.  But Leiter was not an unknown; he was an acknowledged member of The New York School of photographers, which included Bruce Davidson, William Klein, Diane Arbus, and Helen Levitt.  Some two dozen of his photographs were included, as early as 1953, in a MoMA exhibition curated by Edward Steichen.  He had friendships with artists such as Richard Pousette-Dart, Merce Cunningham, and W. Eugene Smith, for years shared his life with the artist Soames Bantry, and worked as a fashion photographer.  He was not an isolated nanny whose images were discovered only after his death.

But where Leiter’s story competes with his art for its sheer romantic power lies in the notion that he was not fully appreciated as one of the 20th Century’s masters of photography — not recognized as one of the greatest artists in the history of the medium — until relatively late in his career, when more than 40 years after many of his early pictures were taken, he shared with Margit Erb, who worked for his longtime gallerist Howard Greenberg, prints of his early color photographs, and was discovered anew.  It was Howard Greenberg who fought for the recognition of his artist, even though it appears that he had, until the mid-Nineties, an incomplete sense of Leiter’s talents.

The 1996 exhibition entitled “Saul Leiter: In Color,” and the subsequent book entitled Saul Leiter: Early Color, can fairly be described as revelations, as exciting as the discovery of a Mayan city, an unknown manuscript by Joyce, the lost print of a film by Von Stroheim.  What the world discovered was that, long before William Eggleston or Stephen Shore brought respectability to color photography, Leiter was producing work that bridged some magical cusp between painting and photography, his images taken looking out into the streets from inside the damp windows of New York City restaurants as striking as anything framed by urban Impressionists seventy years previously.  His framing of subjects — in some cases half of the image given away to a window shade, leaving only a sliver of life to be depicted in an otherwise completely dark rectangle; his eery and precise geometry; his peering through windows of taxis and coffee shops; his use of reflections to shatter an image into multiple parts — was even more powerful than that of HCB, who had a Surrealist’s eye and an architect’s sense of balance.

And now, eight months after his death comes Saul Leiter: Early Black and White, a two-volume companion from Steidl, with a strong assist from Howard Greenberg, and we can now see many of the antecedents and parallel discoveries of Leiter as a black and white photographer.  The volumes are divided, intelligently, between Interior and Exterior images, though Interior can also reflect portraits taken outdoors.  There is no gainsaying that it is Leiter’s color photography that stirs the heart and guarantees his stature.  But the black and white photographs, in many cases, show the same sense of geometric division of a particular scene that his color photographs depict, and which only a painter, or a genius — both of which describe Leiter — could have rendered.

Saul Leiter: Early Black and White is the most important photography book published this year, with the possible exception of the monograph accompanying the great Gary Winogrand shows in San Francisco and Washington.  It is best to start with the color photographs and work backward to these monochrome images.  Any photographer who wants to get a sense of how a painter would frame and envision a scene should immerse herself in Leiter’s work.  And anyone who appreciates powerfully disruptive art should check out Leiter’s work.  Less than a year after his death, with new books about him and his life celebrated in a documentary film, Leiter is finally getting his due.  He received real appreciation in his lifetime, but it was incommensurate with his value, his importance, his unquestionable genius.


The Tulip Frenzy (At A Diagonal)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on April 22, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Leica M, 50mm Noctilux, ND filter.  Didn’t realize when taking it it would essentially be two images cut diagonally.  When I saw it that way, it reminded me of my fixation with the late master Saul Leiter.





New Photos Up At The Stephen Bartels Gallery

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 13, 2014 by johnbuckley100

Paper Fans


There is a theme to the new photos we are exhibiting at The Stephen Bartels Gallery in London, and it is captured well here.

For those who visit Tulip Frenzy, you’ve likely noticed our fixation, since his death in November, with the late master Saul Leiter.  The images we’ve chosen to exhibit this month all reflect this study of his work.

We don’t think there is anything amiss with a photographer — or any artist — admitting that he’s been so knocked over by his study of a master, that he has self-consciously attempted to apply what he’s learned to his own photography.  We’d be willing to bet that, like Cormac McCarthy channeling Faulkner, or the Brian Jonestown Massacre channeling the Velvet Underground, some of the best work by our favorite writers and musicians flow from their desire to emulate their influences.  If over a long career there’s only one influence emulated, then the artist is derivative, unoriginal.  But if he or she is a magpie, and takes a little from here and a little from there, well, in that case we call them The Dandy Warhols.  And everyone gets something that they want.

Enjoy the images.  And if you like them, don’t forget they’re for sale!

The Kiss: Another Homage To Saul Leiter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on January 1, 2014 by johnbuckley100

So we will beg the indulgence of our audience.  Yes, we’ve been thinking about the way Saul Leiter’s images worked, and we keep seeing things that make us reach for our camera.  Leica M, 50mm APO-Summicron-Asph.

The Kiss

After Saul Leiter

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on November 28, 2013 by johnbuckley100

Leica M, 50mm Summilux Asph.



We loved the way Saul Leiter a) shot almost all of his best images in portrait aspect, b) used the frost on windows as something to focus on while the world took shape outside.  We thought of Saul this morning, on a cold beautiful day.  He was a master, and an inspiration.

The New York Times obit this morning was quite wonderful.  R.I.P., Saul Leiter.


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