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WILLIAM KLEIN | 'New York' (1955)
March 23rd 2023
An accidental photographer with no formal training, William Klein got his career off the ground in the fifties by breaking the mainstream rules of photography. City scenes were cropped and overexposed, and the subjects - whether it was a fashion model at Piazza di Spagna in Rome or a group of New Yorkers celebrating St. Patrick’s Day - were often out-of-focus and shot at a skewed angle. Klein’s work was ground-breaking and during the following seven decades he rose to become one of today’s most influential photographers. The series ‘Barbara’ and ‘New York’ visualise two of the artist’s much-loved themes; fashion portraits of Barbara Mullen and urban residents of the American metropolis, a series which won him the prestigious Prix Nadar prize in 1957.
by Henrik Riis
PRINT EDITION RELEASE
As a teenager in New York in the early forties, William Klein dreamt about living in Paris. Just like the generation before him, and the one before them. Young Americans crossed the Atlantic ocean, stepped off the boats aiming for the French capital and the dream; living in Paris, meeting in bars, writing novels and painting in rooftop studios. Fulfilling ideas of what an artist’s life should be. In the twenties, Hemingway sat at Café des Amateurs, close to Place St Michel, sipping strong Caribbean rum while describing the city as a ‘movable feast’ - and a few boulevards away F. Scott Fitzgerald were putting the finishing touches on ‘The Great Gatsby’, wondering if it was any good. A hundred years have passed, and little has changed. Paris continues to attract a young crowd wishing to follow in the footsteps of the great artists of the twentieth century.

Like Fitzgerald and Hemingway, Klein felt destined for Paris from a young age, although it didn’t always seem like he would make it to the European continent. A child of an impoverished family in New York City, he was desperate to escape the family’s destiny following his father’s loss of his money in the Wall Street crash of ’29. It was a disillusioned youth, observing the success of his uncle Louis who had made it to the top as an entertainment lawyer, counting clients such as Charlie Chaplin, Mae West and Salvador Dali. As a schoolboy he haunted the Museum of Modern Art whenever the opportunity occurred, particular the cinema, where he found an escape in the films by Eisenstein and Fritz Lang. Klein wanted to be an artist.
WILLIAM KLEIN
Woman and Saks (1955), 2001

Edition of 500
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
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WILLIAM KLEIN
Woman and Saks (1955), 2001

Edition of 500
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
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Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
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William Klein (American, 1926 - 2022)
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
Iris print on Velin d’arche paper.

Signed and titled on front, numbered on verso.
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 620.00 Available from a private collection
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Klein’s break and untraditional route to the ‘City of Lights’ was paved under the commandment of U.S. Army General, Joseph T. McNarney, at the end of the Second World War. A detour of sorts, stationed in Germany in a post-war Europe struggling for a new direction. His contribution got him to his beloved Paris and at the age of nineteen the young man from New York stood on the steps in front of the six columns to the entrance of the Faculty of Art at Sorbonne University. After finishing his studies in painting at Sorbonne he enrolled briefly with the Cubist painter André Lhote - who had taught a young Henri Cartier-Bresson twenty years earlier - before moving to the far more stimulating studio atmosphere of Fernand Léger; another French Cubist painter, also regarded as a forerunner of Pop Art. But the allure of Paris and the finesse of the lifestyle that he found for himself there also reminded him of the contrasting experience he grew up with in Manhattan. Despite the resentment he felt for bygone years, he was lured back in ‘55 to document New York’s economic and cultural regeneration.

By now, in his late twenties, he was a photographer, albeit an accidental one with no formal training, having won his first camera at a poker game during his time in Germany. A chance meeting with Vogue magazine’s art director, whilst carrying out a painting commission for Léger, had opened the door to a successful career-start, documenting real life situations such as people crossing the street or getting out of a taxi. Images of the daily lives of ordinary New Yorkers set against gritty backdrops. Klein’s photographs weren’t clean, sterile, and clinical, rather they were frenetic; full of energy, vibrant, and a sense of rebellion that went against the grain.
WILLIAM KLEIN
Girl Dancing in Brooklyn (1955), 2001

Edition of 500
30(w) x 40(h) cm
11.81(w) x 15.75(h) inches
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WILLIAM KLEIN
Girl Dancing in Brooklyn (1955), 2001

Edition of 500
30(w) x 40(h) cm
11.81(w) x 15.75(h) inches
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William Klein (American, 1926 - 2022)
30(w) x 40(h) cm
11.81(w) x 15.75(h) inches
Iris print on Velin d’arche paper.

Signed and titled on front, numbered on verso.
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 620.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
It was the commercial assignments that allowed Klein to do independent projects and the first of them was ‘New York’ in 1955. The series was not adopted by the American establishment at the time, but was praised in Europe, becoming an instant classic photography anthology and is recognized today as one of the greatest post-war photo albums. Perhaps Hemingway was spot on when he said “I could write about Michigan in Paris, as in Paris I could write about Michigan”. Some portraits are clearer from a distance.

The cosmopolitan East Coast found fault with the technique as much as with the subject matter of ‘New York’, deeming them unprofessional pictures, too rough with excessive contrast, unclear, shooting of wide-angles and unflattering close-ups. On top of this was the acutely subjective view, which looked at the metropolis with a phenomenal documentary sharpness that was insulting to its residents. Miserable, corrupt, uncomfortable and the focus of world concern, the project unmasked images of young residents of Harlem, sport spectators, consumers in Woman and Saks, a Black Woman, Profile in Crowd at Fifth Avenue and posters and advertising signs like 7 Up and I Love Secretaries. Klein’s technique toyed with taboos in the photography industry that of high-contrast, decomposition, and distortion. But the wide-angle lens, through which the series was shot, got him up close and personal with his subjects. Looking at the photos the viewer feels present, as an intimate participant of the scene, rather than a voyeur simply observing from the outside. This touch is what made the series so famous.
WILLIAM KLEIN
Black Woman, Profile in Crowd (1955), 2001

Edition of 500
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
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WILLIAM KLEIN
Black Woman, Profile in Crowd (1955), 2001

Edition of 500
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
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William Klein (American, 1926 - 2022)
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
Iris print on Velin d’arche paper.

Signed and titled on front, numbered on verso.
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 620.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Klein’s approach was a revolutionary realism method for urban photography of the fifties and sixties and it demonstrated the visual affinity between the urgent, blurred and grainy style of photography and the shared desire to convey the immediacy of street life and political protest; from anti-war demonstrations and gay pride marches to the effects of globalisation and urban deprivation.

The strength in Klein’s photographs is that they are not nearly as political as that of photojournalists as they embrace the subjective view of the photographer on his subjects, rather than an objective view of reality. Klein didn’t feel the need to editorialize life but to make it more personal and intimate.
WILLIAM KLEIN
Crowd, Palladium Ballroom (1955), 2001

Edition of 500
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
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WILLIAM KLEIN
Crowd, Palladium Ballroom (1955), 2001

Edition of 500
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
William Klein (American, 1926 - 2022)
40(w) x 30(h) cm
15.75(w) x 11.81(h) inches
Iris print on Velin d’arche paper.

Signed and titled on front, numbered on verso.
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 620.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
Few photographers of the twentieth century can match the prolific career of William Klein. Following his break-through in the fifties, he shifted his focus in the late sixties and seventies to publishing books and directing features, movies and television shows. The second part of the eighties marked his return to photography and the release of several books such as ‘Close up’ (1989) and ‘In & Out of Fashion’ (1990). For decades, Klein’s popularity has continuously extended beyond the astute collectors and the glossy catalogues of major auction houses, making his oeuvre subject to numerous prestigious awards and regular retrospective exhibitions at museums around the world, recognising his contribution to photography.

Two series by William Klein - consisting of more than twenty images - forms the widest selection of works by one artist ever released by Eyestorm. The initial series of five photographs from 2001 was of the famous American model Barbara Mullen, shot by the artist during the time Mullen was working in Paris for Christian Dior and Coco Chanel. This was followed by the second series of seventeen images from Klein’s iconic ‘New York’-series, showing ordinary situations of New Yorkers in the mid-fifties. The iris prints on Velin d’arche paper are signed and titled on front, numbered on verso.

To view the photographic editions in further detail and to find more information about the works, visit William Klein’s artist page here.
WILLIAM KLEIN
Barbara in the 20's, Paris, (1956), 2001

Edition of 125
30(w) x 40(h) cm
11.81(w) x 15.75(h) inches
MAKE AN OFFER
Art is about talking with each other and via ‘Make an Offer’ you can have a direct conversation with us and suggest a price for this artwork.
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WILLIAM KLEIN
Barbara in the 20's, Paris, (1956), 2001

Edition of 125
30(w) x 40(h) cm
11.81(w) x 15.75(h) inches
ENQUIRY
Art is about speaking to each other and by making an enquiry you can have direct conversation with us about artwork you find interesting.
Name *
Email *
Phone number *
Any Comment? *
* Required fields
William Klein (American, 1926 - 2022)
30(w) x 40(h) cm
11.81(w) x 15.75(h) inches
Iris print on Velin d’arche paper.

Signed and titled on front, numbered on verso.
Edition of 125
PRICE
$ 760.00 Available from a private collection
MAKE AN OFFER
Find art trends here >
 
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