William Klein was born in New York in 1928 to a family of Jewish migrants. Since childhood, he dreamed of Europe and the bohemian life of Parisian artists. Ironically, Klein was drafted into the US Army during his demobilization and ended up in France. There he enters the Sorbonne, where he is engaged in sculpture, and, having bought his first camera, begins to photograph everything around. Striving for new acquaintances in artistic circles, Klein once successfully meets Picasso, and he notes the talent of a photographer.
In 1954, the work of William Klein was noticed by the art director of New York Vogue Alexander Lieberman and offered a contract with the magazine. Having no special education and experience in studio photography, Klein continues to shoot his models on the streets of New York using mirrors: this technique has become a «calling card» of the photographer. For Vogue and the entire fashion industry, this was one of the first experiences of shooting outside the pavilion and avoiding staged shots. Some of Klein’s tricks look revolutionary even today.
Largely thanks to William Klein, the attitude towards fashion photography in general, previously considered a «second-rate» advertising product, has changed. Klein was almost not interested in themodel’s outfit or hairstyle; he came up with an idea, which was the semantic and compositional basis of the photographs. Now, almost half a century later, in Klein’s photographs, one can discern not only the style of the late 1950s — early 1960s but also other features of the time, which is of increasing interest today.
William Klein is an honorary member of the Royal Photographic Society, and his work is in the collection of the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. He is the recipient of such awards as the Prix Nadar (1957), The Cultural Award (1988), the Hasselblad Award (1990), the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award (201 2) and the Sony World Photography Awards.