I think that mysterious things happen in familiar places.
We don't always need to run to the other world.
— Saul Leiter
In the early 1950s through the mid-1960s, the East Village scene was flourishing with artists and poets. The Tenth Street art colony was a short block on East 10th Street between Third and Fourth Avenue. Galleries like Tanager, Hansa, and James and Brata were first established as co-operatives, and artists, such as Willem de Kooning, Sally Hazelet, Saul Leiter, and Milton Resnick, lived and worked around them.
Art Critic Harold Rosenberg who also lived on Tenth Street noted in 1954:
Apart from the two pawnshops facing each other on the Third Avenue western corners, everything on Tenth Street is one of a kind: a liquor store with a large ‘wino’ clientele; up another flight, a hotel-workers’ employment agency; on a basement, a poolroom…Identical with rotting side streets in Chicago, Detroit, and Boston, Tenth Street is differentiated only by its encampment of artists.*
On Tenth Street near St Mark’s Church In-The-Bowery, is an 1854 townhouse where Sally Hazelet, Saul Leiter, and Harold Rosenberg lived. In this historical, secluded setting, Demisch Danant presents French post war design from the same era as the Tenth Street Scene. Other important artists lived in this building over the years, and some still do.
Saul Leiter's former studio in mid-19th century row of 6 pre-Civil War brick townhouses within the St. Mark's Historic District.
Three flights of creaky stairs.
The cream does not always rise to the surface. The history of art is a history of great things neglected and ignored and bad and mediocre things admired.
— Saul Leiter
On the walls and ceiling cracks create a fine tracery, and pieces of plaster
and cracked paint draw a map of the building.
Tall mullioned bay windows let in the northern light.
The window ledge is paint stained. The window always held traces of dust and rain.
*Rosenberg, Harold. "Tenth Street: A Geography of Modern Art."
Art News Annual, 1954.
Photography by Max Burkhalter