Photographer William Klein dies at 96

William Klein, an American photographer who made a name for himself with images of fashion and urban life, died Saturday in Paris at the age of 96, his son Pierre Klein said in a statement Monday.

Klein, whose striking portrayal of restlessness and violence in city life revolutionized photography, died “peacefully”, the statement said.

Known as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Klein was also active in the fields of film and fashion.

His obituary comes as a retrospective of his work at New York’s International Center of Photography draws to a close.

“By his wishes, the funeral will be a very intimate event,” Pierre Klein said, but added that there would be a public memorial for his father later.

Inspired by tabloid sensationalism, Klein’s image subverted the established style of street and fashion photography as one of the first to portray models outside the studio backdrop.

His predominantly black-and-white work plays with off-center subjects and boosted contrast, with young men brandishing weapons at close range, frowns seen in close-ups, and sometimes out of focus. not.

“William Klein photographed like a boxer.

The International Center of Photography in New York states that Klein was “prescient in every respect, ignoring the social and artistic attitudes of the time that paved a unique path.”

“Innovative and uncompromising, he opened countless doors for subsequent image makers around the world,” he added.

– The camera won at poker –

Born in 1926 to an ultra-Orthodox Jewish New York family, William Klein fell in love with Europe during his military service.

After World War II, he studied under the French artist Fernand Léger to become a painter and also dreamed of becoming an architect.

But after winning his first camera in a game of poker, Klein was inspired by photography and soon began photographing monuments in Paris with a German-made Rolleiflex.

Some of his early, almost abstract photographs caught the eye of Vogue’s artistic director Alexander Liebermann.

A collection of photographs from this return home, Life in New York is Good for You, was released in France in 1956, but disliked his eye for the dirty side of Manhattan life. It was long snubbed by US publishers.

“My motto? ‘Anything goes.’ No rules, no limits, no limits,” he later said of the job.

The book was discovered by legendary Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, who offered Klein a job as assistant director on the film Nights of Cabiria.

– Political change –

Klein himself has made films about Rome and has had a long career in film, including the fashion industry satirical Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? 1966.

He also oversaw hundreds of advertisements for French brands such as carmakers Citroën and Renault.

Klein’s documentary would take a political turn, like the pro-North Vietnam “Far from Vietnam” released in 1967 and “Muhammad Ali the Great” released in 1974.

“This black boxer who converted to Islam had a real political side,” said Klein, who became keenly interested in black American struggles.

When Ali’s film was in progress, the director met black nationalist leader Malcolm X on a plane to Miami.

“No one wanted to go near him, so it was the only free seat. We got along very well,” Klein later said.

Klein returned to photography in the 1980s and published several books over the following decades.

He lived in France after he met his wife, Jeanne Florent, and the couple remained together until her death in 2005.

jfg/tgb-ach/raz Photographer William Klein dies at 96

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