William Klein : ABC

Finally to the last but by no means least of the three books I recently received.

The book is titled ‘William Klein : ABC’ a book that I can only describe as a graphic extravagance, Kleins use of mixing graphic art, high contrast colour and grainy B&W images throughout just keep me wanting to look at the images time and time again.

This book or catalogue was produced for his 2012 exhibition in The Tate Modern Museum, London and contains images from his visits to New York, Moscow, Rome, Tokyo,  Paris, some of his fashion photography and films. Plus of course his ubiquitous marked up contact sheets, where he uses his graphic art skills one again, even on the contacts! As a mixture of painting and photographs, Klein has commented that ‘all photographers do mark-ups and is therefore part of my photography’.

In a recent interview Klein said in creating his images he ‘was interested in typography and wanted to use all the possibilities of photography – grain, contrast and blur’. As with Ansel Adams you could write volumes just on the photographer, but here I want to talk a little about some of Kleins photographs.


This image initially caught my eye because, having no previous knowledge of this set of fashions shoots, I stared at them thinking how odd the set was, then realised that perhaps they were not all what they seemed. Later I read and learned that apart from the more modernly dressed girls they are all wax works dummies. Though shot well in B&W the image and its composition are mainly dictated by the positioning of the wax statues. What I really love though is the comedy of the image with on girl adjusting the wax works tie looking back to camera, the other holding out a program to the sitter and pretending to talk to the other statue behind. It looks like the scene was lit with a basic single front on light source, crude but I think adds to the charm and the simple approach of the image.


For this image I saw an interview where Klein talks about ‘there is always someone looking’ , for him this clearly makes the image or a statement when someone is looking at the camera ‘then i the next frame it is gone’. He is of course talking about the man far right. I am intreaged by the depth to this image, the couple in the foreground matching the mid ground couple and the people/scene in the background. All at odds with our friend in the right corner..

It was also interesting to hear Klein discussing the images he took in Tokyo saying that it was difficult to take shots of places and events as he did not know if they where ‘significant or really mean something’, a statement I can empathise with having found it difficult shooting on the other side of the world.


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