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William Klein


1928 - New York, U.S.A

Take all the rules about photography that you know (technique, composition, etc.), twist them around or deny them and you get an idea of the “subversive” style of William Klein. He was born as a fashion photographer for the Vogue magazine, Klein has frequently experimented in the field of street photography: he had a rebellious streak against the rules and the commonly accepted traditions. His “refusal is without compromises”, and he had an open, ongoing polemic against most of the “styles” of photography contemporary to his time, specifically the one from Henri Cartier Bresson and the other “classics” of the street photography. -

Klein photography of the 1950s was unusual for its time: grainy, blurry, high-contrast photographs--qualities generally considered defects in the popular photographic community. Klein not only accepted but cultivated these qualities by using a 35-millimeter camera, slow film, and a wide-angle lens, for both his fashion photography and his personal work. His approach set a precedent for many street photographers of the 1960s, whose work draws upon many of his innovations. - International Center of Photography

In 1946 he joined the U.S. Army  and was stationed in Germany, where he won his first camera in a poker game. After relocating to Paris in 1948, he continued his studies at the Sorbonne with the assistance of the G.I. Bill. At the time, his focus was abstract painting and sculpture. After studying with the French artist Fernand Léger, Klein’s early career breaks came from two exhibitions in Milan, where he was discovered by the architect Angelo Mangiarotti. They began to collaborate when Mangiarotti asked Klein to recreate once of his abstract paintings on the rotating room dividers of a Milanese apartment—his first commissioned work. It was the experience of documenting these panels in motion that lead him to reconsider photography. - Howard Greenberg Gallery

William Klein (born April 19, 1928) is an American-born French photographer and filmmaker noted for his ironic approach to both media and his extensive use of unusual photographic techniques in the context of photojournalism and fashion photography.He was ranked 25th on Professional Photographer's list of 100 most influential photographers.

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