Homage to William Klein

The photographic book as a visual object

07 April 18 June 2023

With the kind collaboration of the William Klein Studio, Paris, the ICP – International Center of Photography, New York, and the Centre Pompidou, Paris

Painter, photographer, filmmaker and graphic designer, William Klein (1926-2022) is a multidisciplinary artist who revolutionized photo publishing, among other things.

In the 1950s, William Klein rewrote the photographic rule book. He advocated for a decidedly subjective approach, championing the intuitive nature of shooting, and preferred to distribute his work in book form, rather than as prints.

He envisioned his books as visual objects whose overall design and graphic narrative are nearly as important as his photographs. The images fill the page, whether they are printed full bleed – to the edge of the page – or make up plural compositions in which they seem to crowd and jostle one another. This nearly cinematographic sequencing offers an innovative, immersive way to experience photography. William Klein’s books are also known for their graphic design, with typographical elements that fill the page, in strongly contrasted colours.

The selection, taken from the library of Lucien Birgé, as part of his donation, testifies to the evolution of his editorial production, from his books dedicated to different cities to his retrospective works, and his reeditions. The 1990s brought with them a new approach: William Klein chose to amplify contrast in his images, printed on slightly glossy satin paper. He became a believer in the “anti-layout”, with full-page images forming a continuous sequence, like in a film.