Julie Saul, who through her longtime eponymous New York gallery did much to elevate contemporary photography into the art world, died Feb. 4 in Tampa after a battle with a rare form of leukemia. Saul was known for her willingness to show an eclectic range of work in media ranging from painting to sculpture to video and ceramics by an equally diverse range of artists, but it is her eye for traditional and avant-garde contemporary photography that cemented his reputation. and that of her gallery, which she first established in 1986 in SoHo, then the frontier of the arts.
Saul was born in Tampa on New Year’s Eve in 1954 to a father who ran a sewn-goods business and a stay-at-home mom, a New York native and volunteer guide whom Saul would later credit. initiation to the arts. “Tampa didn’t have museums, but it took us to museums in New York,” she told the Tampa Bay Weather in 2003. “We had a house that wasn’t filled with great art, but it had great reproductions and great art books.” In 1979, Saul moved to New York, earning her MFA from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1982. Four years later, with her partner Nancy Lieberman, she opened the Lieberman Saul Gallery in 155 Spring Street in SoHo, showing contemporary photography at a time when not many others were.
“One thing that drew me to photography early on – and it still holds – is that photography is an affordable medium. Almost anyone can afford to collect photographs,” she said the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) in 2010. “Fundamentally, photography is a medium and what makes the work great is the idea behind it and the quality of its execution.” Photographers whose work Saul has championed include Nikolay Bakharev, Morton Bartlett, Eugene Bellocq, Andrew Bush, Sally Gall, Luigi Ghirri, Andrea Grützner, Sarah Anne Johnson, Adam Magyar and Arne Svenson. She was also instrumental in the careers of painter Maira Kalman, ceramicist Christopher Russell and multimedia artist Zachari Logan. In 1993 Saul moved her gallery, now known as the Julie Saul Gallery, to 560 Broadway. In 2000 the gallery took up residence at 545 West Twenty-Second Street in Chelsea, where it will remain until its closure in 2019, which Saul chalked to the decline in physical attendance at galleries as the public increasingly sought to work online.
During her career, Saul has worked as an independent curator for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, both in New York. Additionally, she has lectured at institutions such as the Fashion Institute of Technology, NYU, and the School of Visual Arts, and has served on the boards of AIPAD, ArtTable, and Her Justice. In 2010, the Aperture Foundation recognized his contribution to the arts. Saul recently initiated the idea of an exhibition devoted to Berthe Weill’s career after having learned about the dealer in the footnote. “Berthe Weill: indomitable art dealer of the Parisian avant-garde” will be on display at NYU’s Gray Art Gallery in fall 2024.