Image Analysis William Klein (1955) ,”Broadway and 103rd Street, New York” Available at: http://www. amicortina. com/fotpuntvistaingles/kleine. htm [Accessed 5 November 2012] DescriptionWilliam Klein’s collection NEW YORK marks an important time in the history of photography during the latter half of the 20th century. The photograph “Broadway and 103rd Street, New York (1955)” captures New York street life during the time period, with the morbid image of a youth walking the streets of the city while playing with a revolver.
The boys face is full of anger and rage, which therefore seems to be a reflection of the environment he is in. He points the revolver at the photographer but that doesn’t bother the photographer and he still shoots the picture without 1 second thought. He used a wide-angle lense, which provided him with enough depth to him, probably his younger brother looks up at him with respect and admiration. The medium of the photograph is a black and white picture, which looks like it is cropped out of a larger picture. Born in 1928, William Klein belonged to a very poor Jewish
Family who had immigrated from their country and started to live in New York, in an Irish neighborhood leading to him feeling estranged at school and on the streets. He was a bright pupil who had a liking at a very young age of the arts and humanities. He studied Sociology and later was also part of the US army for 2 years. In 1948, Klein went to study briefly in Paris and eventually began living there. When he returned to New York in 1954 for a visit, he decided that he wanted to photograph New York in a ‘new way and wanted to keep a photographic diary.
It was during this time that some of Kleins most famous work was created. The picture shown above is also from that time. New York in the 1950’s suffered from a big racial divide. It was the era Just before the civil rights movement and it was a time of turmoil for people in the city. There was a downturn in the industry and commerce sectors, which lead to fewer opportunities for good Jobs in the future. Youngsters became cynical and were aware of the cultural, ethnic, class barriers. Therefore in Kleins photographs we see how he represents a ore explicit, vulgar perspective of the city.
People struggles through all odds and the dismal mood of the city lowered the emotional prospect of the future. ‘l was a make believe ethnographer- treating New Yorkers like an explorer would treat Zulus- searching for the rawest snapshot, the zero degree of photography. (William Klein, 1956, p. 120) Klein is known for his extensive use of wide-angle lense. In the early 50s Klein was introduced into the photography world, with a collection of books about cosmopolitan cities such as New York, Moscow, Rome and Tokyo.
His black-and-white hotography catches the onlooker’s attention, as the atmosphere within the work is full of actuality, therefore enabling us to undergo and understand the environment of living in the 50s. His work mostly compromises of raw, gritty, black and white pictures and depicts the vigor and movement of the time with little or no regard for old-style work. As William Klein says in The Guardian: “Somebody turned one of the panels when I was shooting on a already abstract shape was a beautiful blur. That blur was a revelation. I thought, here’s a way of talking about life.
Through photography, you can really talk about what you see around you. That’s what I’ve been doing ever since. ” (Klein, April 2012) When Klein returned to New York he worked for 10 years as a fashion photographer for Vogue. He shot models in the busy streets of New York. It was a first insight into his style of iconoclastic pictures full of blur, and grainy high contrast. He used long-focus and flash and mostly liked to crop and blur his images, to create a feeling that you are a part of the action. Kliens work has a lot of resemblance with another famous hotographer from New York, Diane Arbus.
Like Klien she photographs the inhabitants of the city in which she lives and seeks out those who live at the edge of society. Her work emphasizes on the abnormality of a place and is a reflection of ones daily life. The picture below is one of her best-know images shot in 1962, and is of a boy holding a grenade in his hand in Central Park. Similar to Klien she takes pictures of what she sees and doesn’t think twice. They both took pictures that were strange and incomprehensibly troubling. Diane Arbus herself never described her work as ‘normal’.
She would photograph things she did and said because that seemed more interesting to her similar to Klien. They never followed the moral code of photography. William Klein was never interested in photographs 3 that Just tell a story. Like Diane, he also preferred taking pictures that were uncommon and out of the box. Diane Arbus (1962), ” Boy with Toy Grenade in Central Park” Available at: http://www. feralpost. comnp=443 [Accessed 10 November 2012] Despite the obvious similarities between the photographers, upon further analysis a few differences begin to emerge.
William Klein took pictures of fashion and objects relating to fashion as well as governmental issues that pertained to society. He covered all aspects of his surroundings but on the other hand Diane Arbus only chose to take photographs of one specific topic. There is a definite difference between the mood and tone that the pictures convey by both the photographers. William Kleins pictures seemed more planned and there was a sense of humor behind some of the images he took. They were a lot more comical compared to those of Diane Arbus. SHE-RGILL, ISHE BAFPR NOVEMBER 19,
The photograph is a bit shocking and denotes youth and revolt and the lack of color adds depth to the picture. There is a sense of sarcastic rage, which is displayed by the older boy who is holding the revolver. In my opinion, Klein seemed to have a keen interest in the contrast between the boys, both visually and in character. The boy holding the revolver seems particularly aggressive whereas the younger boy, most probably his brother looks nervous and weak. I feel the gritty effect adds to the seriousness of the picture. It seems to me as though they were a mirror image of Kliens personality.
As a photographer, Klein seemed to have a reserved and deep attitude towards life but at the same time was in your face, similar to the boy with the gun in the picture. It is believed that Klein himself gave the boy the gun and directed him and told him to do what he wants. Therefore the image, which at first appears to be an impulsive picture of a boy playing, is in actuality a partially directed photograph. As a viewer looking at it now, it totally eliminates the element of intensity from the picture. ‘l WAS AN OUTSIDER, FOLLOWING MY INSTINCTS’. (William Klein, 2012)