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PHOTOGRAPHY VIEW; William Klein, Impolite Photographer
By Vicki Goldberg
New York Times
Published: October 18, 1992
In the 1950's, a few photographers took to the streets to record the sullen electricity and rank contradictions of urban life with a new urgency. A lot of photography's rules got broken in the process, and William Klein broke more of them, and earlier, than almost anyone else. He did not frame right. He came in too close. He courted blur, high contrast, graininess and streaks of light, and he treated his subject matter as if it were grist for the tabloid mill. He did not give a fig for a perfect print but preserved his mistakes as if they were masterstrokes. Others were experimenting along these lines; Klein played a major role in codifying a new outlook.

He began to photograph in 1954 at the age of 26, virtually gave it up in the mid-60's to make films, was rediscovered at the end of the 70's, and decided to take up photography once more. He still works at breaking rules, though it is much harder to find rules to break today. A retrospective at the Howard Greenberg Gallery (through Saturday), with 85 pictures and a catalogue, touches on every phase of his photography, including his edgy, witty fashion work for Vogue in the 50's and 60's and his somewhat less vital color work.