Fame is of No Use

Saul Leiter died on Tuesday. He was 89, a remarkable and practically unknown photographer. Leiter is undeniably one of my favorite photographers.

If I hadn’t gone to a gallery opening in Dubai 5 years ago, and if I hadn’t noticed a shelf of monographs at the back of the gallery, I might not have discovered him either. I brought home Saul Leiter: Early Color, feeling as though I had a great treasure in my suitcase.

One rainy night last May I was walking down a boulevard in Vienna. The day before I had seen Leiter’s show at the Museum Hundertwasser. Tomas Leach’s documentary was screened at the show, so I’d had a good lesson about how much Leiter hated the commercial aspect of things. But, there, on a kiosk, soaked with rain, was the poster for Leiter’s show. As the kiosk rotated it revealed an ad for H&M, an irony that I am sure Saul would have loved – the most fame adverse of artists endlessly revolving with the most commercial of enterprises.

In the article reporting his death the New York Times quoted Leiter:

“I am not immersed in self-admiration,” he said. “When I am listening to Vivaldi or Japanese music or making spaghetti at 3 in the morning and realize that I don’t have the proper sauce for it, fame is of no use.”  

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About Carol Dragon

Carol Dragon is a New York City photographer who focuses on portraiture. Her dramatic approach to capturing the essence of her subjects is done in a style reminiscent of master painters and yet is very much her own. Carol is one of the featured photographers in the recently released 100 New York Photographers by Cynthia Dantzig. She has a BFA and a MFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Her client list includes CBS, Scholastic Publishing, AOL Time Warner and Anson Mills. She is available for commissioned work worldwide.
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