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William Klein Photography

American, 1926-2022

American photographer William Klein continually channeled the zeitgeist through his oeuvre, imbuing his photography with startling honesty and empathy, as well as his own particular brand of abstraction. The portraits, scenes and scenarios resemble windows into a world where reality has begun to warp, sometimes dreamily, other times more emphatically, so that snapshot moments are strangely portentous or full of possibility.

Klein was best known for his early fashion shots and arresting street photography, capturing, with candor and humanity, life in cities around the world, including Rome, Moscow, Tokyo and Paris. His gritty and grainy images of 1950s New York are widely considered his most powerful, documenting the underbelly of a growing metropolis, with his focus set on the energy and multidimensional nature of postwar culture. In his 1955 image Selwyn Theatre, 42nd Street, New York, for example, Klein contrasted the gleaming silhouette of a car with the faded-out forms of a group of young men about town, creating strong graphic patterns that suggest a sense of abandon and opportunity.

Klein’s aesthetic, however, is not easy to summarize, since he demonstrated an eager embrace of experimentation through the decades. Early street shots are often out of focus and taken at unexpected angles, while his 1960s fashion shots and celebrity portraits for Vogue’s American, French and British editions are sleek and subtly Surrealist, pioneering a new style that put the spotlight on the beauty of the composition rather than the allure of the clothes, as seen in Smoke and Veil (1956) and his 1961 portrait of Anouk Aimée for Paris Vogue.

In addition to photography, Klein explored painting, filmmaking, graphic design and publishing, adopting a polymathic attitude to the arts. Klein began his career as a painter under the tutelage of French abstractionist Fernand Léger, having moved to Paris in 1948. The experience opened his mind to the possibilities of manipulated form, specifically the illusionary effects achieved through the playful arrangement of light and shadow.

A commission from 1952 was instrumental in his side step into photography. Having created a painted room divider for an architect, Klein took photographs of the rotating piece. His delight in the fragmented shapes created by the movement prompted him to make thousands of abstract photograms by applying shifting geometrical forms on photographic paper during long exposures.

Indeed, the unorthodox mixture of disorder and imperfection, along with beauty and energy, remained a constant in his work, as evidenced by such unconventionally arresting images as Candy Store, Amsterdam Avenue, New York (1955), Independence Day Parade, Dakar (1963) and Black Venus West Indian Day Parade, Brooklyn, New York (2013). Among Klein’s most famous celluloid achievements is his 1964 documentary Cassius the Great, dedicated to a young Muhammad Ali in the run up to his fight with Sonny Liston.

In fact, many of Klein’s photographs and films have a strong sociopolitical dimension, although they were not intended as acts of propaganda. Instead, they raised awareness about conditions of flux, antagonism, hope and change, especially among African American and minority communities as they navigated times of change. This is exemplified by vibrant shots like Easter Sunday, Harlem High Hat, New York and Moves and Pepsi, Harlem, both featured in the self-designed and self-published seminal tome New York: 1954.55.

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Artist: William Klein
William Klein Bikini, Moscow exhibition poster (William Klein Paris 1981)
By William Klein
Located in NEW YORK, NY
William Klein Bikini, Moscow Exhibition Poster: Paris, 1981: Highly decorative, rare vintage William Klein Bikini, Moscow exhibition poster defined by Klein's famed 1959 photo. Printed on fine, heavy-weight paper; excellent color tones and overall quality; looks fantastic framed. Offset lithograph on thick wove paper. 1981. 21 x 30 inches. Minor signs of handling; good to very good overall vintage condition. Work has been stored flat in archival setting for many years. Unsigned from an edition of unknown. William Klein is an American artist known for his one of a kind style of abstract photography depicting city scenes. Although similar in subject matter to other street photographers such as Diane Arbus and Saul Leiter, as well as fashion photographers Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, Klein’s images break from established modes. Born on April 19, 1928 in New York, Klein studied painting and worked briefly as Fernand Léger’s assistant in Paris, but never received formal training in photography. His fashion work has been featured prominently in Vogue magazine, and has also been the subject of several iconic...
Category

1960s Pop Art William Klein Photography

Materials

Lithograph, Offset

William Klein Bikini Moscow exhibition poster (William Klein Paris 1981)
By William Klein
Located in NEW YORK, NY
William Klein Bikini, Moscow Exhibition Poster: Paris, 1981: Highly decorative, rare vintage William Klein Bikini, Moscow exhibition poster defined by Klein's famed 1959 photo. Printed on fine, heavy-weight paper; excellent color tones and overall quality; looks fantastic framed. Offset lithograph on thick wove paper. 1981. 21 x 30 inches. Minor signs of handling; good to very good overall vintage condition. Work has been stored flat in archival setting for many years. Unsigned from an edition of unknown. William Klein is an American artist known for his one of a kind style of abstract photography depicting city scenes. Although similar in subject matter to other street photographers such as Diane Arbus and Saul Leiter, as well as fashion photographers Irving Penn and Richard Avedon, Klein’s images break from established modes. Born on April 19, 1928 in New York, Klein studied painting and worked briefly as Fernand Léger’s assistant in Paris, but never received formal training in photography. His fashion work has been featured prominently in Vogue magazine, and has also been the subject of several iconic photo books, including Life is Good...
Category

1960s Pop Art William Klein Photography

Materials

Offset, Lithograph

Dorothy + Little Bara, Paris, 1960 (Printed Later)
By William Klein
Located in Santa Monica, CA
Signed, titled & dated in pencil on verso Gelatin Silver Print Paper - 20"x24", Matted - 24"x30"
Category

1960s William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Painting + Coffee: Simone D'Aillencourt, Fabiani
By William Klein
Located in New York, NY
Signed by the artist
Category

1960s Modern William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Nina + Simone, Piazza di Spagna, Rome, 1960 - William Klein
By William Klein
Located in London, GB
Nina + Simone, Piazza di Spagna, Rome, 1960 Signed and numbered Platinum-palladium print, printed later 33 x 28 inches From an edition of 20 William ...
Category

Late 20th Century William Klein Photography

Materials

Platinum

Smoke and Veil, Paris (Vogue)
By William Klein
Located in New York, NY
Gelatin silver print Signed, titled, and dated in pencil, verso This artwork is offered by ClampArt, located in New York City.
Category

1950s Other Art Style William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Dorothy and Beach Ball and Dwarf Scout, Paris
By William Klein
Located in New York, NY
Gelatin silver print Signed, titled, and dated in pencil, verso This artwork is offered by ClampArt, located in New York City.
Category

1960s Other Art Style William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Anouk Aimée, Paris (Vogue)
By William Klein
Located in New York, NY
Signed by the photographer.
Category

1960s William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Selwyn Theatre, 42nd Street, New York
By William Klein
Located in Santa Monica, CA
signed by artist
Category

20th Century William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Anne St. Marie + Cruiser in Traffic, NY (Vogue)
By William Klein
Located in Santa Monica, CA
William Klein (born April 19, 1928) is an American-born French photographer and filmmaker noted for his ironic approach to both media and his extensive use of unusual photographic te...
Category

1960s William Klein Photography

Materials

C Print

Dorothy + Feathered Hat, Rome
By William Klein
Located in New York, NY
Dorothy + Feathered Hat, Rome, 1962 gelatin silver print 30 x 40" ed. of 30
Category

1960s Modern William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Anouk Aimee, Paris
By William Klein
Located in New York, NY
William Klein Anouk Aimee, Paris, 1961 silver gelatin print 32 x 40" ed. of 30 38 x 48" ed. of 30
Category

1960s Modern William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Barbara, Paris
By William Klein
Located in New York, NY
William Klein Barbara, Paris, 1956 gelatin silver print 30 x 40" ed. of 30
Category

1950s Modern William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Club Allegro Fortissimo, Paris
By William Klein
Located in New York, NY
Club Allegro Fortissimo, Paris,1990 Gelatin Silver Print/ Enlarged contact strip outlined with blue gloss paint, signed in felt pen 45 x 60 inches Edition unique Signed in felt pen
Category

1990s Realist William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Hat and 5 Roses, Paris Vogue
By William Klein
Located in Santa Monica, CA
signed by artist
Category

20th Century William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

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Previously Available Items
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Club Allegro Fortissimo, Paris
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Atomic Bomb Sky, New York
By William Klein
Located in Santa Monica, CA
signed by artist
Category

William Klein Photography

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Fellini Drinking Coffee, Rome
By William Klein
Located in Santa Monica, CA
signed by artist
Category

William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Simone, Painting, Coffee, Rome
By William Klein
Located in Santa Monica, CA
signed by artist
Category

William Klein Photography

Materials

Silver Gelatin

Two Waiters in Café, Rome
By William Klein
Located in Santa Monica, CA
signed by artist
Category

William Klein Photography

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Simone & Nina, Piazza di Spanga, Rome [Vogue]
By William Klein
Located in Santa Monica, CA
signed by artist
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William Klein Photography

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Hat with Five Roses Paris (Vogue)
By William Klein
Located in New York, NY
Hat with Five Roses Paris Vogue, 1956 gelatin silver print 30 x 40" ed. of 30 signed verso 20 x 24" signed verso
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1950s Realist William Klein Photography

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Silver Gelatin

New York, No. 3, Macy's Department Store
By William Klein
Located in Dallas, TX
Signed, titled, dated and print date.
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1950s Other Art Style William Klein Photography

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Silver Gelatin

William Klein photography for sale on 1stDibs.

Find a wide variety of authentic William Klein photography available for sale on 1stDibs. You can also browse by medium to find art by William Klein in silver gelatin print, lithograph, offset print and more. Much of the original work by this artist or collective was created during the 20th century and is mostly associated with the modern style. Not every interior allows for large William Klein photography, so small editions measuring 12 inches across are available. Customers who are interested in this artist might also find the work of Danny Lyon, Nickolas Muray, and Neil Leifer. William Klein photography prices can differ depending upon medium, time period and other attributes. On 1stDibs, the price for these items starts at $625 and tops out at $75,000, while the average work can sell for $6,000.

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