DescriptionWilliam Klein’s collection NEW YORK marks an important time in the history of photography during the latter half of the 20th century. The photograph "Broadway and 103rd Street, New York (1955)” captures New York street life during the time period, with the morbid image of a youth walking the streets of the city while playing with a revolver. The boys face is full of anger and rage, which therefore seems to be a reflection of the environment he is in. He points the revolver at the photographer but that doesn’t bother the photographer and he still shoots the picture without 1
second thought. He used a wide-angle lense, which provided him with enough depth of field leading to the picture being a bit blurred and partly out of focus. The boy next to him, probably his younger brother looks up at him with respect and admiration. The medium of the photograph is a black and white picture,
which looks like it is cropped out of a larger picture.
Born in 1928, William Klein belonged to a very poor Jewish
Family who had immigrated from their country and started to live in New York, in an Irish neighborhood leading to him feeling estranged at school and on the streets. He was a bright pupil who had a liking at a very young age of the arts and humanities. He studied Sociology and later was also part of the US army for 2 years. In 1948, Klein went to study briefly in Paris and eventually began living there. When he returned to New York in 1954 for a visit, he decided that he wanted to photograph New York in a ‘new’ way and wanted to keep a photographic diary. It was during this time that some of Kleins most famous work was created. The picture shown above is also from that time.
New york in the 1950’s suffered from a big racial divide. It was the era just before the civil rights movement and it was a time of turmoil for people in the city. There was a downturn in the
industry and commerce sectors, which lead to fewer
opportunities for good jobs in the future. Youngsters became cynical and were aware of the cultural, ethnic, class barriers. Therefore in Kleins photographs we see how he represents a
more explicit, vulgar perspective of the city. People struggles through all odds and the dismal mood of the city lowered the emotional prospect of the future. ‘I was a make believe
ethnographer- treating New Yorkers like an explorer would treat Zulus- searching for the rawest snapshot, the zero degree of photography’. (William Klein, 1956, p.120) Klein is known for his extensive use of wide-angle lense.
In the early 50s Klein was introduced into the photography
world, with a collection of books about cosmopolitan cities such as New York, Moscow, Rome and Tokyo. His black-and-white
photography catches the onlooker’s attention, as the atmosphere within the work is full of actuality, therefore enabling us to undergo and understand the environment of living in the 50s. His work mostly compromises of raw, gritty, black and white pictures and depicts the vigor and movement of the time with little or no regard for old-style work.
As William Klein says in The Guardian:
"Somebody turned one of the panels when I was shooting on a
long exposure, and when I developed the photographs this
already abstract shape was a beautiful blur. That blur was a revelation. I thought, here's a way of talking about life. Through photography, you can really talk about what you see around you. That's what I've been doing ever since.” (Klein, April 2012) When Klein returned to New York he worked for 10 years as a
fashion photographer for Vogue. He shot models in the busy
streets of New York. It was a first insight into his style of iconoclastic...
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