William Klein

William Klein first gained distinction in the mid-twentieth century for his original approach to creating ironic fashion photography, employing innovative and unusual techniques. Widely regarded as a revolutionary photographer and filmmaker, Klein’s artistic sensibility, honed through training as a painter under Fernand Léger in the 1950s, permeated all his works. Photography became his primary medium for achieving widespread acclaim, particularly with his street photography capturing various cities. In 1957, he was awarded the Prix Nadar for his striking images of New York City.

During his tenure at Vogue from 1954 to 1966, Klein’s avant-garde commercial fashion photography earned him a reputation as an iconoclast. He utilized wide-angled lenses to create surreal effects and introduced movement and energy through blurred motion into his naturally lit street shoots, often satirizing the fashion world.

Transitioning into filmmaking in the early 1960s, Klein blurred the boundaries between photography and cinema, applying his ironic approach to fashion to the silver screen. His first full-length film, “Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?” (1965-1966), written, directed, and designed by Klein, served as a satirical commentary on his years at Vogue, featuring unsympathetic portrayals of the fashion industry, including a spoof of Diana Vreeland. His subsequent fiction features, “Mr. Freedom” and “Le Couple Témoin,” similarly offered biting satires.

In addition to his fiction work, Klein directed numerous short and feature-length documentaries and produced over 250 television commercials. Today, he is best remembered for his unorthodox photographic techniques, which challenged conventions in the 1950s and 1960s, forever altering the perception of the medium. In 2022, William Klein passed away, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and artistic daring that continues to influence generations of photographers and filmmakers.

Photography & Works