Thursday, April 7, 2011

Saul Leiter

I have been watching, or more like engrossed in, the "Mildred Pierce" mini-series on HBO. Even before the first parts aired, I watched "Making of Mildred Pierce", which was honestly nearly as interesting as the series itself , and it was the first time I had heard mention of the photographer/painter Saul Leiter.

Director Todd Haynes credits Production Designer Mark Friedberg with introducing him to the work of Leiter. According to Haynes, the photographer's use of reflection, use of windows or glass, seemed give a truer sense of being in a specific place at a specific time and that was the perfect feel for this period piece.

In a 2005 NYTimes review by Roberta Smith, she writes:

"Unlike such well-known street photographers as Robert Frank and William Klein, Mr. Leiter was a photographer less of people than of perception itself. His painter's instincts served him well in his emphasis on surface, spatial ambiguity and a lush, carefully calibrated palette. But the abstract allure of his work doesn't rely on soft focus, a persistent, often irritating photographic ploy, or the stark isolation of details, in the manner of Aaron Siskind or early Harry Callahan. Instead, Mr. Leiter captured the passing illusions of everyday life with a precision that might almost seem scientific, if it weren't so poetically resonant and visually layered."

I love that last part- poetically resonant and visually layered....When I did ultimately look up Leiter's work, I was moved and I could also see just how much his photographs informed Haynes and inspired his film making.

So if you have the opportunity, try to catch "Mildred Pierce" and if you don't- take in some of Leiter's work...


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