PRESS RELEASE: For more information about William Klein: Paintings Etc please contact Amy Barder at Four Colman Getty: email@example.com
Explore images from the exhibition and book here
Read the accompanying text by David Campany here
For the first time in 60 years, rare and unseen works by the internationally acclaimed artist William Klein will be presented by HackelBury Fine Art in London from 21 September to 20 December 2012.
A legendary figure in both photography and film with a career spanning over half a century, it has long been recognised that William Klein began his artistic career as a painter, however his paintings have scarcely been seen or published since they were first exhibited in the early 1950s.
William Klein: Paintings Etc will unveil an exceptional group of Klein’s early paintings and experiments in photography. Giving a new perspective on his entire career, they reveal an incredibly accomplished young artist. The foundations of his unique visual language are clearly seen as his trajectory is traced through painting, architecture, photography, books and film.
Together with original paintings from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s will be large-scale abstract silver gelatin works, and the first in a series of monumental painted Mural Projects, all conceived between 1950 and 1953, and only now realised at full scale. These will be shown alongside early black and white images of New York, and unique Painted Contacts.
HackelBury Fine Art’s exhibition and accompanying publication are co-produced with Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York. They coincide with a major exhibition at Tate Modern opening in October 2012, and a further publication ABC - a celebration of William Klein’s long and exemplary career to date. William Klein: Paintings Etc will transfer to the Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York in January 2013.
About William Klein
After initial training at the Sorbonne as part of the post-war GI Bill, New York born Klein spent a brief period in the Paris studio of Fernand Léger. He exhibited figurative paintings and abstract Mural Projects together in Milan in 1952. At this time he was commissioned by the architect Mangiarotti to paint murals onto a series of turning panels, creating endless combinations of pattern and form. A chance discovery when documenting the panels was a revelation: captured as they were revolving, a new energy and dynamism was introduced into the geometric abstractions. The process of photography enabled an exploration of scale, form and movement that informed all that followed. The resulting abstract photographs and revolving panels were exhibited in Paris at the Salon des Réalités Nouvelles in 1953, where they were seen by Alexander Liberman from American Vogue. A meeting ensued and Klein was offered a contract to join Vogue for special projects and later for experimental fashion photos, and it was agreed that Vogue would finance a book on New York.
Returning to New York, Klein let loose on the city, taking fashion photography in a whole new direction; beauty and the grotesque all within wide-angle and telephoto shots. Taking the models out of the studio and onto the streets, his revolutionary techniques pioneered a new vision. Simultaneously he was producing the book; Life is Good and Good for you in New York: Trance Witness Revels (1956). Capturing the rough and tumble of daily life on the mean streets of New York and harnessing the explosive energy of the city through juxtapositions and bold captions, Klein’s brutally honest images and uncompromising vision caused a major a sensation. Although Vogue declined to publish in the US, maverick film-maker Chris Marker championed the project to be published in Paris. It went on to win the Prix Nadar in 1957. Rome followed in 1958-59, and Moscow and Tokyo in 1960. All of these publications are highly sought-after today, and Klein is widely acknowledged as a significant innovator in the history of the photo book.
William Klein is also an accomplished and highly respected filmmaker, beginning his foray into the moving image in 1958 with the first ‘Pop’ film Broadway by Light. Omnipresent in each of Klein’s films is the same uncompromising vision that characterises his still images. Abandoning photography in the mid-1960s to focus his attention on filmmaking, Klein produced a portfolio of iconoclastic films including Cassius the Great, later re-edited with new footage as Muhammed Ali, The Greatest; Little Richard; the Vietnam War; and experimental films such as Mr Freedom and Qui-Êtes Vous Polly Magoo. His last film to date Messiah (1999) reveals on an epic scale a summary of the themes present throughout his artistic career.
Klein returned to still photography in the 1980’s, ever progressive and unrelenting in his approach. Revisiting his work to that date, he made large-scale blow-ups of his photographic contact sheets, revealing on an unparalleled scale the frames before and after the decisive image. Liberally applying gloss brush strokes in bold colours to these mural-sized prints, Klein brought together key elements from his long and varied career: graphic form, composition and colour from the early murals and paintings juxtaposed with ground-breaking fashion and street photographs, along with the narrative and bold visual language of his experimental films. A defining moment where his unique vision came full circle.
In 1963 at Photokina, Cologne, Klein was named one of the 30 most important photographers of the century. In 1989 he was made a Commander of Arts and Letters in France. Subsequently in 1990 he won the prestigious Hasselblad Award and in 1999 he was awarded the Medal of the Century by the Royal Photographic Society in London. In 2007 he received the International Center of Photography Infinity Award for Lifetime Achievement, and more recently in April 2012, he was awarded the Outstanding Contribution to Photography Award at the 2012 Sony World Photography Awards.
At the age of 84 Klein continues to live and work in Paris, France.
Notes to Editors
• William Klein: Paintings Etc runs from 21 September to 20 December 2012 at HackelBury Fine Art, 4 Launceston Place, London W8 5RL http://www.hackelbury.co.uk/
• HackelBury Fine Art exhibits 20th and 21st Century works of art from a carefully selected stable of artists, and is founded on the shared expertise, passion, & experience of Sascha Hackel & Marcus Bury, dealers & curators since 1990. Together with Gallery Director Kate Stevens, their primary focus is on contemporary mid-career artists, with an emphasis on museum projects. The gallery was opened in 1998 and continues to develop and thrive through an expanding program of gallery exhibits, International Art Fairs, and Museum and publishing collaborations. HackelBury currently participates in the The Armory Show and the AIPAD Photography Show in New York, Masterpiece in London, Paris Photo and Art Miami.
• Kate Stevens, Gallery Director, HackelBury Fine Art is available for comment through Four Colman Getty
For more information about William Klein: Paintings Etc please contact Amy Barder at Four Colman Getty firstname.lastname@example.org or 2030239025.