For women of a certain age, the fashion images of William Klein will be instantly recognizable. They appeared in Vogue and, as featured in this major exhibition of his work, remain stunning examples of Klein’s imaginative and iconoclastic spirit.
Nina & Simone, Piazza di Spagna, Rome, 1960
Hiroko, Cardin, Paris, 1963
Evelyn, Nina, Isabella and Mirrors, New York, 1959
Isabella and Opera and Blank Faces, Paris, 1963
Yet, there were – and are — many more sides to Klein — all of which are represented in this one-person exhibition, which fills the entire space at ICP.
It’s a fitting homage to Klein, now in his nineties, who was born and raised in New York, moved permanently to Paris in 1948, and roamed the globe, capturing the essence of places and people in New York, Rome, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, and beyond.
Ali’s Victory in Kinshasa
Republic of Congo, 1974
Klein had a knack for being in the right place at the right time. He produced documentary films about Muhammad Ali and Eldridge Cleaver, worked with Fellini in Rome and produced iconic street photography that reflected his rebellious spirit and and the vitality of urban life.
It’s clear from his images where you are.
Klein has continued to publish books of new and reworked material, which are on display. Excerpts from several of his films, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966) a satire on the world of fashion, and a documentary of Muhammad Ali (1964), play on a continuous loop on ICP’s third floor, along with later photographic work, including overpainted contact images.
Who are you Polly Maggoo?
Broadway by Light
Running simultaneously with this exhibition is a much smaller one, at the Howard Greenberg gallery, focused on his African photography. “Afrique” will be on view through September 17.
Visitors to ICP should also take time to explore the Essex Street Market, across the street. It’s sleek and modern interior is a far cry from the old days, more reminiscent of the Chelsea Market than the Lower East Side. Nevertheless, it’s a cornucopia of food from around the world and definitely worth a visit.
WILLIAM KLEIN: YES
Photographs, Paintings, Films 1948-2013
ICP, 79 Essex Street
Jun 03, 2022 – Sep 12, 2022
Text and Images by Eleanor Foa Dienstag