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'I was a make believe ethnographer: treating New Yorkers much as a museum expedition would treat Zulus - in search of the straightest of straight documents, the rawest snapshot, the zero degree of photography.' William Klein

William Klein: Paintings, Etc takes place at HackelBury Fine Art, London 21 September-20 December, 2012
and transfers to Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York,
1 March -12 April, 2013

Preview the exhibition here

For further information or to arrange to view works in person please contact katestevens@hackelbury.co.uk

After initial training at the Sorbonne as part of the post-war GI Bill, New York born Klein spent a brief period in the Paris studio of Fernand Léger. He exhibited figurative paintings and abstract Mural Projects together in Milan in 1952. At this time he was commissioned by the architect Mangiarotti to paint murals onto a series of turning panels, creating endless combinations of pattern and form. A chance discovery when documenting the panels was a revelation: captured as they were revolving, a new energy and dynamism was introduced into the geometric abstractions.  The process of photography enabled an exploration of scale, form and movement that informed all that followed. The resulting abstract photographs and revolving panels were exhibited in Paris at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in 1953, where they were seen by Alexander Liberman from American Vogue. A meeting ensued and Klein was offered a contract to join Vogue for special projects and later for experimental fashion photos, and it was agreed that Vogue would finance a book on New York.

Returning to New York, Klein let loose on the city, taking fashion photography in a whole new direction; beauty and the grotesque all within wide-angle and telephoto shots. Taking the models out of the studio and onto the streets, his revolutionary techniques pioneered a new vision. Simultaneously he was producing the book; Life is Good and Good for you in New York: Trance Witness Revels (1956). Capturing the rough and tumble of daily life on the mean streets of New York and harnessing the explosive energy of the city through juxtapositions and bold captions, Klein’s brutally honest images and uncompromising vision caused a major a sensation. Although Vogue declined to publish in the US, maverick film-maker Chris Marker championed the project to be published in Paris. It went on to win the Prix Nadar in 1957. Rome followed in 1958-59, and Moscow and Tokyo in 1960. All of these publications are highly sought-after today, and Klein is widely acknowledged as a significant innovator in the history of the photo book.

William Klein is also an accomplished and highly respected filmmaker, beginning his foray into the moving image in 1958 with the first ‘Pop’ film Broadway by Light. Omnipresent in each of Klein’s films is the same uncompromising vision that characterises his still images. Abandoning photography in the mid-1960s to focus his attention on filmmaking, Klein produced a portfolio of iconoclastic films including Cassius the Great, later re-edited with new footage as Muhammed Ali, The Greatest; Little Richard; the Vietnam War; and experimental films such as Mr Freedom and Qui-Êtes Vous Polly Magoo. His last film to date Messiah (1999) reveals on an epic scale a summary of the themes present throughout his artistic career.

Klein returned to still photography in the 1980’s, ever progressive and unrelenting in his approach. Revisiting his work to that date, he made large-scale blow-ups of his photographic contact sheets, revealing on an unparalleled scale the frames before and after the decisive image. Liberally applying gloss brush strokes in bold colours to these mural-sized prints, Klein brought together key elements from his long and varied career: graphic form, composition and colour from the early murals and paintings juxtaposed with ground-breaking fashion and street photographs, along with the narrative and bold visual language of his experimental films. A defining moment where his unique vision came full circle.

In 1963 at Photokina, Cologne, Klein was named one of the 30 most important photographers of the century. In 1989 he was made a Commander of Arts and Letters in France. Subsequently in 1990 he won the prestigious Hasselblad Award and in 1999 he was awarded the Medal of the Century by the Royal Photographic Society in London. In 2007 he received the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement, and more recently in April 2012, he was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award at the 2012 Sony World Photography Awards.

At the age of 84 Klein continues to live and work in Paris, France.


Museum of Modern Art de la Ville, Paris
The National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen
Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Paris
Centre Pompidou - Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris
IAC - Institut d'art contemporain Villeurbanne/Rhône-Alpes, Villeurbanne
Yokohama Museum of Art, Nishi-ku, Yokohama
National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo (MOMAT), Tokyo
Fotostiftung Schweiz (Schweizerische Stiftung für die Photographie), Winterthur
MoCP - The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL
Southeast Museum of Photography, Daytona Beach, FL
Los Angeles County Museum of Art - LACMA, Los Angeles, CA
MMoCA - The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WI
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA


Paintings, Etc, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, 2013
William Klein + Daido Moriyama, Tate Modern, London, 2012-2013
Paintings, Etc, HackelBury Fine Art, London, 2012
Klein & Cie, Polka Galerie, Paris, 2009
Mai 68, l'exposition Historique, Cosmos Galerie, Paris, 2008
Paris en couleurs, Hôtel de Ville, Paris, 2008
Réalités, Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, 2008
Exposition de William Klein, Artothèque municipale de Grenoble, 2007
Italie double vision, Maison Européenne de la photographie, Paris, 2007
Prints 1955-2007, Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York, 2007
Highlights, Maison du Danemark, Paris, 2006
Rétrospective, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 2005
House of Photography, Moscow, 2004
Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, 2002
Grand Manege, Moscow, 1999
Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1999
FNAC, Paris, 1999
Pushkin Museum, Moscow, 1997
Saint-Gervais Center, Geneva, Switzerland, 1997
National Foundation, Madrid, Spain, 1997
Caixa Foundation, Barcelona, Spain, 1996
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, USA, 1996
Maison Europeene De La Photographie, Paris, 1996
Museum Of Modern Art, San Francisco, 1995
FNAC, Paris, Marseille And Travelling, 1995
International Center of Photography (Icp) New York, 1994
Presidential Palace, Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1994
Printemps De La Photo, Cahors, 1993
Morsbroich Museum, Leverkasen, 1993
Beaux Arts, Almeria, Spain, 1992
Stadts Museum, Munich, Germany, 1992
Hasselslad Center, Göteborg, Sweden, 1990
National Library, Turin, Italy, 1990
Volkwang Museum, Essen, Germany, 1990
Finnish Film Archives, Helsinki, Finland, 1989
Museum Of Moving Images, London, 1989
Musée d'Elysée, Lausanne, France, 1988
Osaka Museum, Osaka, Japan, 1988
Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany, 1988
Museum Of Photographic Arts, San Diego, California, USA, 1987
Printemps Ginza, Tokyo, Japan, 1987
Museum Of Modern Art, Paris, 1987
Victoria And Albert Museum, London, 1986
Fotofest, Houston, Texas, USA, 1986
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, USA, 1985
3 Castles In Drome, France, 1985
Municipal Galleries, Zagreb And Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 1984
Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1983
Municipal Gallery, Albi, France, 1982
International Festival, Malmö, 1982
American Centre, Paris, 1981
Moma, New York, 1980
Canon Gallery, Geneva, Switzerland ,November. 80 b&w prints; 30 colour prints, 1979
National Foundation of Photography, Lyon, France, 1979
Apeldoorn Museum, Apeldoorn, Holland, 1978
Photographers’ Gallery, London, January, 1978
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, US, 1978
Fiolet Gallery, Amsterdam, January, 1978
Festival International, Arles, France, July, 1977
The History of Fashion Photography, International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, 1978
Cincinnati Art Institute, Cincinnati, OH, 1978
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL, 1978
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1967
Jaeger, London, 1965
Photokina, Cologne,1963
Fuji Photo Salon, Tokyo,1961
Vista Books, London,1960
La Hune, Paris. November, 1956
Saarbrucken, Subjecktive Fotografie 2, 1954
Salon des Réalités Nouvelles, Paris,1954
Galerie Apollo, Brussels, December, 1953
Galleria del Milione, Milan. January,1952
Piccolo Teatro, Milan, 1952
Galerie Dietrich-Lou Cosyns, Brussels, 1951


William Klein has published numerous books from 1956 to the present day, the
most recent noted here :

Black & Light, imprint, due for release January 2015
Brooklyn + Klein, Contrasto, 2014
Paintings Etc, Contrasto/HackelBury Fine Art/Howard Greenberg Gallery, 2012
William Klein: ABC, Tate Publishing, 2012


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