YES | Photographs, Paintings, Films, 1948 – 2013 – an insight into the major exhibition by curator David Campany
Street photographer. Fashion photographer. Painter. Graphic designer. Abstract artist. Writer. Filmmaker. Book maker. Few have transformed as many fields of art and culture as William Klein. From his wildly inventive photographic studies of New York, Rome, Moscow, and Tokyo to bold and witty fashion photographs; from cameraless abstract photography to iconic celebrity portraits; from documentary films about Muhammad Ali, Little Richard, and the Pan-African Festival of Algiers to fiction films about the beauty industry, imperialism, and consumer culture, Klein has made every form and genre his own. Through it all runs his distinct graphic energy and deep affection for humanity’s struggles through the chaos of modern life.
Born in Manhattan in 1928, Klein visited the city’s art museums as a teenager and longed to get to Europe. By 1948 he was in Paris where he studied at the Sorbonne, worked briefly under artist Fernand Léger, and where he has lived ever since. For decades he juggled commercial assignments around the world with personal projects in photography, film, painting, and publishing. His output was prodigious. There were few exhibitions until the late 1980s, when he began to look back at his achievements. Gaining the admiration of younger generations, he returned to the fashion world and continued to make groundbreaking films and photobooks.
David Campany is a curator, writer, broadcaster, editor and educator. Renowned for his engaging and rigorous and accessible writing, exhibitions, public speaking, an organisation of ambitious project teams, David has worked worldwide with institutions including MoMA New York, Tate, Whitechapel Gallery London, Centre Pompidou, Le Bal Paris, ICP New York, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, The Photographer’s Gallery London, ParisPhoto, PhotoLondon, The National Portrait Gallery London, Aperture, Steidl, MIT Press, Thames & Hudson, MACK and Frieze.
Recent curatorial projects include William Klein: Yes – Photographs, Paintings, Films 1948-2013 (International Center of Photography, New York, 2022); ACTUAL SIZE! Photography at Life Scale (International Center of Photography, New York, 2022); A Trillion Sunsets: A Century of Image Overload (International Center of Photography, New York, 2022); Gillian Laub: Family Matters (International Center of Photography, New York, 2021); Alex Majoli: SCENE (Le Bal, Paris, 2019); The Still Point of the Turning World: Between Film and Photography (FoMu Antwerp, 2017).
In 2020 David curated the three-city Biennale für aktuelle Fotografie 2020 – The Lives and Loves of Images (Mannheim/Ludwigshafen/Heidelberg, Germany), working with 70 artists from 13 countries to produce six thematic exhibitions, a program of public events, and a publication.
David have written over twenty book. They include Indeterminacy: Thoughts on Time, The Image and Race(ism), co-written with Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa (2022), On Photographs (2020), So Present, So Invisible – conversations on photography (2018), A Handful of Dust (2015), The Open Road: photography and the American road trip (2014), Walker Evans: the magazine work (2014), Gasoline (2013), Jeff Wall: Picture for Women (2010), Photography and Cinema (2008) and Art and Photography (2003). He has written over two hundred essays for monographs and museums. He contributes to Frieze, FOAM, Aperture, Source and Tate magazines.
David has a Phd. For his writing, he has received the ICP Infinity Award, the Kraszna-Krausz Book Award, the Alice Award, a Deutscher Fotobuchpreis, and the Royal Photographic Society award.