Edition 2023

Saul Leiter


Photographs are often considered important moments, but they are, in fact, according to Saul Leiter, tiny fragments of an unfinished world. Such is his own world, little fragments of images juxtaposed and conjoined, amassing and forming vast, ever-expanding fields.

This ambidextrous painter and photographer recognized no limits. If, in the silence of his studio, his movement inscribed on paper imperceptible little rhythmic abbreviations, like an everyday exercise, his gaze penetrated the tumult of the city, challenging what draws the eye and scrutinizing what is not seen.

He photographed that which obstructs, hides, encloses, and thus reveals new depths of reality. New York, paradigm of modernity, that city of unceasing rhythm, was for nearly sixty years the locus of his aesthetic finds and optical inventions.

Dense black, of varying intensities, shimmers on the surface. A burst of color pierces it: bright, strident, hyper-saturated. Farther on, a point transforms into a line which in turn becomes a mass, a mass that expands, then pours over the whole image and envelops its little stories. Only the essential remains.

Everything is a matter of balance, exactitude, and humility in the works of this man, who nonetheless accorded great importance to imperfection. This exhibition presented for the first time at Arles brings together a selection of photographs, and paintings, most of them unpublished, and invites us to discover an œuvre where languages rub up against each other, speak to each other, speak to us of the vision of one of the 20th century’s most fascinating artist-photographers. If only we give them just a little more attention, these voices also tell us that the images are fragments containing enigmas, and that they journey through time and endure, intact, despite the darkness that may prevail in the world.

Anne Morin

Curator: Anne Morin.

Exhibition coproduced by the Rencontres d'Arles and diChroma photography, Madrid. 

With the collaboration of the Saul Leiter Foundation, New York.


  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture