KLEIN, William. Close Up. New York: Brausdruck Heidelberg for Thames and Hudson Inc, 1990.

Folio (340 x 241mm), pp. [1]-12 (half-title, imprint, title, colophon, preface, captions), [1 (blank)], 14-[173] (photographs), 174-175 (biography, filmography, bibliography, etc.), [1 (blank)]. 80 double-page duotone photographic illustrations after Klein. (Some very light marginal toning.) Original black boards, upper board and spine lettered in white, black endpapers illustrated with colour-printed reproductions of Klein’s marked-up contact sheets, dustwrapper illustrated with reproduction of marked-up contact sheets, not price-clipped. (Extremities very lightly rubbed, dustwrapper slightly faded on spine and minimally creased at edges.) A very good copy in the original dustwrapper.

First American edition, signed on the half-title ‘William Klein’. The photographer, artist, and film-maker William Klein was born in New in 1928 and, following two years’ service in the United States Army, studied art in Paris. After working for some years as an artist, Klein took up photography and in 1954 was offered a job as a photographer for Vogue in New York. In 1956 Klein published his landmark book Life is Good and Good for You in New York which won the prestigious Prix Nadar, and it was followed by a series of books on Rome, Moscow, and Tokyo, before he moved to working as a film-maker in the mid 1960s, continuing his work as a still photographer and publishing further works. Through exhibitions of his photographs and his photobooks, Klein ‘is recognized as one of the most important practitioners of twentieth-century photography, who helped establish the genre known as snapshot photography or street photography. The use of the wide-angle lenses to distort the image, fast film, extreme contrast, grainy printing, and blurry and streaked imagery is Klein’s photographic language’ (L. Warren (ed.), Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography (London, 2005), p. 877).

The photographs brought together in Close Up date from 1954 to 1989 and, as the dustwrapper blurb states, ‘[f]or William Klein, the ultimate expression of photography is the book form. The books he designed and photographed in the 1950s and 60s were among the most innovative and influential in photographic history. Breaking with the medium’s taboos and traditions, he developed a radically new way of taking pictures, combining black humour, lyricism and acerbic social observation with daring graphic invention. From the beginning he rejected the prevailing myths of objectivity and non-intervention and redefined the relationship between the photographer and his subject, whether in the snapshot, in reportage or in the posed picture’.

‘In 1965, Klein abandoned photography for more than fifteen years to make films […]. However, the photographic boom of the 1980s prompted a rediscovery of Klein’s work […]. Klein retrospectives were published and exhibited throughout the world. But, not satisfied with showing only images from the past, Klein began taking photographs for a new book Using a wide-angle lens, he photographed point blank – close up – and this volume is the result. Organized around several early photographs, which serve as prototypes, it offers boisterous variations on its theme, rushing upon the viewer an avalanche of new, unpublished images of the anonymous and the famous – in crowds, confrontations and processions; backstage in politics; in society, fashion and sport. Here 80 superb, large-size photographs, including unforgettable images of Muhammad Ali winning in Zaïre, President Mitterrand in Paris, the Pope in Lourdes, Jesse Jackson in Atlanta and a host of others’.


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