William Klein is a photographer and filmmaker noted to for his ironic approach to both media and his extensive use of unusual photographic techniques in the context of photojournalism and fashion photography.
Trained as a painter, Klein studied under Fernand Léger and found early success with exhibitions of his work. However, he soon moved on to photography and achieved widespread fame as a fashion photographer for Vogue and for his photo essays on various cities. Despite having no training as a photographer, Klein worn the Prix Nadar in 1957 for New York, a book of photographs taken during a brief return to his hometown in 1954. Klein's work was considered revolutionary for its "ambivalent and ironic approach to the world of fashion", its "uncompromising rejection of the then prevailing rules of photography" and for his extensive use of wide-angle and telephoto leneses, natural lighting and motion blur. The world of fashion would become the subject for Klein's first feature film, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, which, like his other two fiction features, Mr. Freedom and Le Couple Témoin, is a satire.
Though American by birth, Klein has lived and worked in France since his late teens. His work has sometimes been openly critical of American society and foreign policy; the film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum once wrote that Klein's 1968 satire Mr. Freedom was "conceivably the most anti-American movie ever made."
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