Posts Tagged ‘William Klein’

Photography | Klein’s Rome in Paris

Friday, October 14th, 2011


Rome + Klein Photographies 1956-1960

Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, Paris. Until 8th January, 2012

In 1954, shortly after returning from Paris, where he had been since enrolling at the Sorbonne four years earlier, William Klein went to see Alexander Lieberman at US Vogue. The two had met at one of Klein’s sculpture shows in Paris, where Lieberman had been impressed by his kinetic, photosensitive glass panel works, influenced by Moholy-Nagy, and also by the photographs he had begun to take. At the Sorbonne, Klein had studied briefly under Léger, who encouraged his students to revolt against bourgeois conformity: telling them to abandon galleries and work in the streets.

“I came from painting, at a time when people were saying that
painting and painting rules were dead,” he recalls.
“I thought the same thing could apply to photography.”

Lieberman asked Klein, who had grown up on the streets of New York, what he would really like to do. Explaining that having been away for so long he somehow felt foreign he wanted to photograph the city in a completely new way – from an alien perspective. Intrigued, Vogue financed the project only to be shocked by his vulgar, crude and aggressive view of New York. Raw and chaotic, the pictures were generally regarded as being the work of an incompetent. Having been unable to find an American publisher, the resulting book New York – Life is good and good for you in New York, was published in 1956 by Editions Seuil in Paris.

“In the 1950s I couldn’t find an American publisher for my New York pictures,” he says. “Everyone I showed them to said, ‘Ech! This isn’t New York – too
ugly, too seedy, too onesided.’ They said, ‘This isn’t photography, this is shit’.”

The same year, it came out in Italy and Klein went to Rome at the invitation of Federico Fellini. Hired as assistant director on the Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria (Le notti di Cabiria) 1957 – incidentally, newly restored and rereleased in 1998 with a crucial scene that censors had cut, reinstated. Klein was provided with an ideal opportunity to explore every corner of the city with personalities as famous as Pier Paolo Pasolini and Alberto Moravia, as his guides.

As gritty, if not more so, than New York…, Klein’s book, Roma + Klein, was published in 1958 in Italy by Feltrinelli. More than fifty years later, the sixty large-scale prints, made especially for this exhibition show the ordinary, daily lives of Romans: walks in the Forum; Sunday trips to the beach at Ostia; the filming at Cinecittà… recreating the magic of those years and reaffirming his reputation as one of the great masters of photography. The reissue of Rome, celebrates Klein’s incredible talent and his gesture of love for the eternal city.

At 83, having had an extraordinary life in which he became an innovative fashion photographer at US Vogue, a documentary film-maker, a fine artist working in mixed-media and having had solo exhibitions and won prizes all over the world, William Klein lives in Paris with his wife and collaborator Janine, whom he met and married after being discharged from the US army there in 1948.

Top: Piazzale Flaminio, Rome, 1956 © William Klein
Above: Cinecittà, 1956 © William Klein

Roma + Klein was republished in October 2009 by Editions du Chêne


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Photography | Outta Sight

Thursday, June 9th, 2011


Night Vision: Photography After Dark

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City,USA, until 18th September, 2011

As I child I was scared of the dark, of the imaginary and the real that lurked within it. So afraid was I that every night I slept with the blankets pulled up over my head and risked a spanking as punishment for wetting the bed that was my sanctuary. Then I grew up. Then I went to pubs, followed by nightclubs and often found myself walking home – sometimes staggering more than a little, in an advanced state of inebriation – the eight miles or so from the city to where I lived. The darkness in the city never frightened me. If I became detached from the crowd I had begun the evening with, comforting noises seeping out from the bars and clubs – American soul music (Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye), British rock (David Bowie, Roxy Music) – and looking in through the plate glass windows of the bustling open-late eateries let me know that I was not alone. The further I walked, the more the lights dimmed, the less I could see, the more the familiar ghosts from my childhood reared up from the dark shadows that gradually grew and deepened around me. Once, at around 2 am, a friend took me via a short cut that reduced our walking time by about five minutes. He had not mentioned beforehand that it passed through a graveyard. He was not letting on but I knew he was as afraid as I was. Then all at once we started singing: She says baby ev’rything is alright, uptight, out of sight. Baby, ev’rything is alright, uptight, clean out of sight. And, well, it somehow just was…
©Pedro Silmon 2011

Highlights of the Met’s exhibition include classic 20th Century, black and white, night photography by Berenice Abbot, Bill Brandt, Brassaï,Robert Frank, André Kertész, William Klein, Weegee and Diane Arbus, among many others.

Image above by Sid Grossman (American, 1913–1955)
Image title:
Mulberry Street, 1948
Gelatin silver print. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1990 (1990.1139.2). © Estate of Sid Grossman/Courtesy Howard Greenberg Gallery, NYC

Are you frightened of the dark?
Do you want to tell us about it?

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Swiss goes pop in Düsseldorf

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011


Zeitgeist & Glamour: The decades of the jet set

February 5th – May 15th, 2011, NRW Forum Düsseldorf, Germany

Diane Arbus, Eve Arnold, Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Harry Benson, Guy Bourdin, Raymond Depardon, Terence Donovan, Elliott Erwitt, Ron Galella, Dennis Hopper, William Klein, Robert Mapplethorpe, Billy Name, Terry O’Neill, Bob Richardson, Jeanloup Sieff, Francesco Scavullo, David Bailey, Lord Snowdon, Bert Stern (Bert Stern’s Twiggy, VOGUE, 1967. © Bert Stern. See above)… just some of of the photographers, whose work is represented in this exhibition, many of whom were or became, alongside the glamorous subjects they followed from the Côte d’Azur, St. Moritz, Paris, London, Rome, and New York– among them, Brigitte Bardot, Jackie Kennedy, Maria Callas, Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Mick Jagger, Karl Lagerfeld – jet-setters themselves.

On show are 400 photographs, never exhibited before in public, from the Swiss collector Nicola Erni that collectively capture the unique zeitgeist of the 2oth century’s Swinging 60s and early 70s – Warhol’s Factory, Studio 54, Swinging London, Blow up, Pop Art, sex, drugs and rock‘n’roll – as seen through the lens of famous portrait and fashion photographers. Individually, each of these was creating new styles of photography, developing new techniques and forms of presentation that shaped the visual culture of the era. The paparazzi (See picture above – which may well have been the product of a prior arrangement between and in the interests of both subject and photographer(s) – by Giacomo Alexis: Un gelato in faccia di Rino Barillari da Sonia Romanoff in Via Veneto, Roma, 1970. © Giacomo Alexis) are represented, too; a new breed of photographer, who took pictures of famous personalities in their private lives and sold them to whichever newspaper and magazine bid the highest.

Were you around in the 60s & 70s? What do/did you think about all this stuff?
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