Thursday, 13 December 2012

william klein

On Tuesday I paid a visit to the Tate Modern. I love it there, and my dad had booked tickets for an exhibition which was a complete surprise. It exhibited the works of two street photographers, and film-makers, William Klein and Daido Moriyama

I was completely besotted by Klein's work, but I'm not so much a fan of Moriyama's, despite his evident talent. It's surprising how two street photographers who are similar in many different ways can be so entirely different as well. I'm the kind of person who wanders around art galleries and exhibitions completely aimlessly and I walk fast and stop at anything that catches my eye; I'm not someone who walks around at a snail's pace, analysing the hell out of each photograph. If a photograph interests me, I'll stop and look. If it doesn't, then I'll keep on going, stomping around like a grumpy teenager (that seems to be my 'art gallery' face). 

Klein is both a street and fashion photographer, but he started out as a painter with an interest in typography and graphic design, something he later incorporated into his photography: taking photographs of street signs, etc. 

I'm a sucker for street photography, but what really interested me with Klein's work was his lack of fear of intrusion. He did not mind shoving a camera in someone's face and photographing their reaction: he has a love for faces, the more faces in the photograph, the better, it seems. Moriyama seems the opposite: he photographs the back of people's heads, using a compact camera so as not to intrude on people and thus avoiding any reaction between the photographer and the photographed. It is this precise reaction that makes Klein's work so interesting; often, at least one person would be looking directly at Klein's obtrusive lens and looking annoyed, or smiling, or posing; there would be some reaction. This is what interested me about his work. It's reinstated a great love for black and white photography I had to go and buy myself a new black and white film for my 35mm pentax. 

Klein was not afraid of 'blur'. My dad hates 'blur' and the effect it has on the photograph, losing its 'sharpness' and therefore, for my father, it's value. However, Klein accidentally produced a blur on one of his photographs, and since, he deliberately set his photographs up so they would blur. This blur adds something: a movement in a still frame, a sense of being alive, a contrast between the fragmentary nature of a photograph and the constant movement of real life. Fragments: something both the artists seemed to be interested in.

Klein tells us, in the video below, that his images of New York were not accepted by New York editors because apparently they made New York look like a 'slum'. This honesty in photography is something that is often lost in fashion photography, where all the models are dressed up to look as glamorous as possible - providing an obvious beauty. However, street photography, Klein's in particular, allows the beauty of the world to be visible even against the very grotty backdrops. I've always enjoyed 'art' of some sort which conveys something people would normally overlook, and not see to be terribly 'beautiful', in such a way that allows a different perspective to be had. 

The manipulation of Klein's images to make the black darken or the white pop and the two to combine was extremely interesting: and his public confession of his art being nothing but chance. 

Have a look at Klein's film, 'Broadway by Light', 1958. 

While I wish I was one of those people who looked at art and always cared about what it 'meant', but, to be perfectly honest, I don't always care about what it means and I think that art, all art, including poetry and prose, should be able to be accepted completely independently of its 'meaning' and 'context' and just accepted for being something beautiful and well crafted. Aesthetics. 

Anyway - I just thought I hadn't written anything about a photographer in a very long time. And seeing as Klein 'inspired' me so much, probably more than any other photographer in a long while, I should at least share with you some of his images/film. I know I've rambled, but, hey! It'll get me in the mood for writing something actually relevant to my degree, I suppose. (Ooooo aesthetics)


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  2. This is such an interesting post! Loved reading it! I think street photography is one of the best out there, especially when it's B&W. It provides a deep meaning and really moves you when you see it, at least that's how I find it, and why i love it!I will definitely be looking further into Klein's work!

    Thank you!

    Ely xx

    1. thanks so much ely, yeah i love klein's work! there's so much great stuff of his out there - both fashion and street photography!


  3. Lucky you! I love this exhibition!!! Thanks for sharing!
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