William Klein – Written Biography
It was thought that the snapshot style of American Photography began with Robert Frank in the 50’s, but now however it has become clear that William Klein stands as America’s most innovative photographer.
Klein grew up and was born in New York. He spent almost 2 years in the army, visiting places such as Germany and France and after his discharge he lived and settled in Paris to become a painter. He painted a series of abstract murals for Italian architects to use.
Klein wanted to re-invent the photographic mode. In 1954, he applied these experiments to the place that he was born, New York. Klein’s book that was released in 1956, offered a street view of the real New York, a scene that many people had not seen and were oblivious to. The book was published in Europe because no American publishers would even look at it, and this made it little known in the U.S. at the time – except by the photographers.
Klein’s photographs in the book pulled no punches, and showed in full detail exactly how the conditions were at the time of photographing them. Using fast film, High Contrast, Grain, a Wide Angle Lens and Heretical Framing, he mixed accidents and abstraction.
Klein also created a photo book on Rome, Moscow and Tokyo receptively, each with a different approach on the conditions, pushing photographical revelations to the limit.
Klein also photograhed fashion, where he totally revolutionised the medium. His influence in the subject is evident even today. From 1955 to 1965, Klein was working for Vouge, which allowed him to fund his other personal projects. From 1965 to the early 80’s, he stopped his photography to focus on creating films.
Klein’s major recent film, Le Messie’s American launch coincided with a retrospective season of Klein’s films at Harvard, on 25th February 2000.