William KLEIN, Christmas shoppers, near Macy's, New York Enlarge 1 /1

William KLEIN

United States of America born 1928

  • France

Christmas shoppers, near Macy's, New York [Christmas shoppers, New York, 1954] 1954 Place made: New York, New York, United States of America
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: Inscribed,verso,l.l.,pencil,`Christmas shoppers, near Macey's, New York 1954'. Signed,verso,l.r.,pencil,`William Klein'; u.r.,pencil, `printed by William Klein in 1954'. Artist's stamps,verso,c.,red ink,`william klein ... (illeg.)'; l.r.,red ink,`C. William Klein/VIVA'; c.,blue ink,`DOCUMENT A RENDRE A / VIVA / 8, rue St. Marc-75-PARIS-2 / Tel. : 236-30-27 / MENTION OBLIGATOIRE DE / (red ink) C. William Klein/VIVA'
Tertiary Insc: Inscribed,verso, l.r.,felt tipped pen,`livre New York/ p.57'
Dimensions: printed image 29.7 h x 40.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1993
Accession No: NGA 93.2031

Be yourself. I much prefer seeing something, even if is clumsy, that doesn’t look like somebody else’s work.  William Klein

Klein sandwiched his relatively short photographic career between being a painter and a filmmaker. Self-taught, he experimented with flash, wide-angle lenses, blurring and close-ups, abstraction and accidents, and produced grainy, high contrast prints. Klein’s 1956 book, Life is Good & Good for You in New York: Trance Witness Revels gave impetus to the emerging genre of street photography though his harsh, uncompromising vision of the city. His work was met, particularly in the United States, with misunderstanding and hostility.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Klein sandwiched his relatively short photographic career, working as a fashion photographer for Vogue, between being a painter and a filmmaker. Self-taught, he experimented with flash, wide-angle lenses, blurring, abstraction and accidents, and produced grainy, high contrast prints. He is deliberately at the other end of the spectrum from the invisible, disinterested photographer. Klein deliberately got really close to his subjects, in their faces, and caught them reacting to being photographed on the street. ‘To be visible, intervene and show it’ was his mantra.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra