William Klein, American Photographer in Paris, Dies at 96

William Klein, an American photographer whose innovative portrait style strongly influenced fashion and street photography in the second half of the 20th century, has died at the age of 96.

Klein died in Paris on Saturday, his son Pierre Klein said in a statement on Monday.

Born in New York City in 1926 to Hungarian Jewish parents, Klein grew up in Manhattan and studied sociology at the City College of New York. After serving in Europe with the U.S. Army during World War II, he moved to Paris to study painting under the GI Bill.

Shortly after arriving in Paris, Klein met and married Jean Florian, a model and painter. The couple lived together in France until his death in 2005.

Klein, who studied briefly with French painters André Lotte and Fernand Léger, had his first solo exhibition of paintings in Brussels in 1951 and a second in Milan a year later. In 1954, he turned to photography after meeting artistic director Alexander Lieberman. Vogueand began a 10-year collaboration with the magazine.

During the same period, he created a historical photographic diary of his hometown of New York, titled Life is well and good for you in New York.. The book highlights Klein’s unconventional use of wide angles, compositional contrasts and unusual framing, which came to define the still-nascent genre of street photography.

The book was published in Paris, London and Rome in 1956 and won the Nadir Prize the following year.

He published photo diaries of other cities, Rome in 1959, Moscow and Tokyo in 1964, and Paris in 2002.

He was also a noted filmmaker, producing several documentaries and feature films throughout his career, dealing with topics such as the fashion industry, the Vietnam War, and the legendary boxer Muhammad Ali.

Klein first ventured into cinema in 1956, when Italian director Federico Fellini, inspired by Klein’s raw images of New York City street life, asked him to star in his 1957 film. Nights of Kabria.about a prostitute in Rome.

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