William Klein

Exhibition William Klein: “Yes” – A retrospective

© William Klein

“I came from the outside, the rules of photography didn’t interest me.” – William Klein

─── by Josh Bright, June 14, 2022
  • A brand new exhibition at the International Center of Photography celebrates the multifaceted career of visionary, NYC-born artist William Klein.

    Black & white photography by William Klein, New York, 1955
    Candy Store, Amsterdam Avenue, New York, 1955

    Klein is best known as a photographer, working predominantly within the genres of photojournalism, street, and fashion. He is renowned for his creative and subversive approach to the medium which influenced generations of practitioners, including, now-iconic Japanese photographer Daido Mōriyama. Yet Klein began his artistic journey as a painter, and throughout his career, experimented with various image-making techniques and mediums, while also producing numerous documentary and scripted films.

    Color fashion photography by William Klein, yellow taxi, model, nyc 1962
    Antonia and Yellow Taxi, New York, 1962
    Black & white photography by William Klein, Cineposter, Tokyo, 1961.
    Cineposter, Tokyo, 1961

    The first US exhibition dedicated solely to his work in over a generation is the culmination of a decade of work for ICP’s Curator-at-Large David Campany. He has worked alongside Klein to consolidate the various diverse strands of his practice into a landmark retrospective of over 300 photographs, paintings, films, and more.

    Black & white street photography by William Klein, Harlem, New York, 1955
    Moves and Pepsi, Harlem, New York, 1955

    “For a long time, Klein was known as either a fashion photographer or a street photographer or a filmmaker, as different audiences knew and valued different aspects of his work. Only in recent years has the scope of his achievements begun to be recognized,” says Campany. “Versatility runs against the idea that artistic significance is based on single themes and recurring preoccupations. But artists like Klein, who ranged freely and avoided specialism, are key to understanding the culture of the last century.”

    Black & white street photography by William Klein, Hairdresser’s School, Tokyo, 1961
    Hairdresser’s School, Tokyo, 1961

    Notable works on view include Klein’s photographic surveys of New York, Rome, Paris, Moscow, and Tokyo; some of the most iconic and creative imagery from his fashion oeuvre, and excerpts of both scripted and documentary films, including his critically-acclaimed portrayal of Muhammad Ali.

    The exhibition runs until September 12, 2022, alongside a diverse public program that includes film screenings, panel discussions, and curator’s tours. An accompanying book written by the curator will be published by Thames & Hudson, at a later date.


    William Klein: YES Photographs, Paintings, Films, 1948–2013 is on view from June 3 – September 12, 2022, at the International Center of Photography, 79 Essex Street, New York, NY 10002.

    More information is available via their website.

    All images © William Klein courtesy of ICP