William Klein (American, b. April 19, 1928) is a photographer best known for incorporating unusual elements into his photographs and videos. Born in New York, he grew up as a Jewish boy in an area where anti-Semitism was common. He turned to art at a young age as a way to escape from his peers. He frequently visited the Museum of Modern Art, and he studied at the City College of New York before enlisting in the Army. In 1948, he left the United States and traveled to France, where he studied at the Sorbonne under Fernand Léger (French, 1881–1955).

After marrying Jeanne Florin, Klein started to work in the Abstract genre. He later gained inspiration from Mondrian (Dutch, 1872–1944) and the Bauhaus movement that was sweeping Europe. Klein started creating murals, which gained him attention from Angelo Mangiarotti (Italian, b.1921). The two collaborated on several projects while Klein worked for Domus, an Italian architecture magazine. Klein moved back to New York in the 1950s and started working as a photographer. He experimented with new techniques, which created unusual shading, odd angles, and other new elements on the finished images.

Klein met Alexander Liberman (Russian-American, 1912–1999), and the two began a partnership. Klein shot a number of fashion photographs for Vogue, the magazine for which Liberman worked. Klein created a series of images that showed New York as a dark and shocking place. When no one would publish the photos, he turned the images into the book New York. He later published the photographic books Rome, Moscow, and Tokyo. Klein turned to film in the 1980s, creating the works Broadway By Light, Who Are You Polly Maggoo?, and The Messiah. He used the same unusual camera angles and techniques in shooting his movies. Klein later abandoned film work and returned to photography. He exhibited his work at Piccolo Teatro and Galleria il Milione in Milan, the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York, the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, and the Jane Jackson Gallery in Atlanta, GA. The British Film Institute in London ran a retrospective of his film work in 1997. Klein currently lives in Paris, France, where he continues to work on his art.

Timeline

1928
Born in New York City
1942
Enrolled at city college of new york to study sociology
1946–1948
Spent two years in the US army
1948
Enrolled at the 'sorbonne' in paris
1949
Studied with Lhote and Fernand Leger
1952
Began collaboration with architect Angelo Mangiarotti and magazine "Domus"
1954
Returned to New York and began to photograph the city
1956
Won the Prix Nadar
1955–1965
Worked for "Vogue" magazine
1966
Directed Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?
Lives and works in Paris, France

Exhibitions

2012
Daido Moriyama and William Klein and William Klein, Tate Modern, London, UK
2007
ICP Infinity Award, Center of Photography
2000
galleria carla sozzani, milan, italy
1999
scottish national gallery, edinburgh, scotland
fnac, paris, france
1998
grand manège, moscow
jane jackson gallery, atlanta, usa
1997
pushkin museum, moscow
saint-gervais center, geneva, switzerland
caixa national foundation, madrid, spain
deichtor hallen, hamburg, germany
pouchkine museum, moscow, russia
hamiltons gallery and british film institute, london, uk
fondazione nazionale della fotografia, turin, italy
1942
'piccolo teatro' Milan
'galleria il milione' Milan

Literature

1964
Published "moscow" and "tokyo
1960
Published "rome"
1956
Editions' Seuil published 'new york'