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William Klein: Paris + Klein Hardcover – March 2, 2003
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About the Author
William Klein was born in 1928, growing up in the "mean streets" of Manhattan. At age 18 he entered the U.S. Army for a two-year stint (a year and a half of which were spent at the Sorbonne at the invitation of the French government), and then set himself up in Paris, where he worked briefly with Fernand Léeger. In 1954, after six years of painterly research, he returned to New York to embark on a guerilla confrontation with his estranged native city. The result was the remarkable photo-journal New York, which won the 1957 Prix Nadar in France but was never published in the United States. Over the next few years, Klein produced three new photo books and worked intermittently for Vogue magazine, then, in 1958, abandoned photography for for film and documentary work. In the 80s he returned to the still camera and produced three new photo books, followed by a new, greatly expanded version of New York, and a book on his films. Over the course of his multidisciplinary career, Klein has been honored with a Hasselblad Prize, a Guggenheim Foundation grant, a Grand Prix National in France, and an Agfa Award.
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From the inside front cover to the back dust jacket photograph, this is a disconnected, hodge-podge of mob scenes. Some would say it's "dynamic". For me it's hyperactive, nervous and grating. It's a page-turner book. You turn the pages quickly to get through it as fast as possible. While some of the black and white pictures are passable, the color photographs are garish in their blaring, overdone saturation that screams, "Look at me!"
In my opinion, anyone or any thing that has to scream to get attention doesn't really deserve to get it.
This is supposed to be Klein's impression of the Paris where he lives and the Paris he says he loves. Okay. I'll pass. There's nothing in this Paris to love.
Who else can do that like William Klein? He loves crowds and works very close to the action. Nobody can pack a wide-angle photo with the swirl of full-on activity like he can. He may have many imitators, but nobody can pull it off, year after year like the master. To accuse Klein of mimicking his imitators is a bit callow, is the previous reviewer faulting him for being derivative of himself?
Robert Frank has said that a great artist has only one or two original ideas. Klein has a grab bag full of ideas and worked and reworked them in a long and storied career.
I can understand if one is not in the mood for that kind of intensity, but don’t fault the book. Klein is about maximum impact. I would suggest that if you are bored, you are going too fast. It might be best to take smaller sips and clutch the arm of your chair to steady yourself.