William Klein, France 1989, digiBeta, 15 min, English and French with English subtitles
The first episode in a series of short TV documentaries, initiated by Klein himself, in which great photographers are invited to talk about their practice as the camera pans across some of their contact sheets, thus mimicking a crucial process of image selection and self-critique usually kept behind the scenes. Eager to show what happens in between iconic shots, Klein guides us through the making of a photograph from the instant of framing and shooting through to the brutally honest dissection of a developed roll of film, mainly made of rejected shots or ‘non-photographs,’ and emphasising the possibilities for further experimentation in the lab and beyond. This experience of opening up his studio practice to the public eye gave Klein the initial idea for his trademark hand-painted contact sheet blow-ups, which he sees as ‘another way of dealing with and showing a photograph.’
In and Out of Fashion
William Klein, France 1998, digiBeta, 88 min, French with English subtitles
This kaleidoscopic montage mixes excerpts from Klein’s feature films and documentaries with imagery from his photographs, books, and paintings. Narrated by the man himself, it is a selective guided tour through Klein’s career, shedding light onto his modus operandi by focusing specifically on his relationship with fashion. For example, rare footage he captured of Yves Saint Laurent’s very first catwalk show is revealed as the inspiration for his first feature film, Who Are You, Polly Maggoo? (1966); later on, Roland Barthes’ description of Klein’s 1959 photograph Mayday, Moscow in Camera Lucida provides the pretext for an oblique reflection on clothing as a cultural signifier in street photography. The film’s title suggests not only the shifting role of fashion within Klein’s oeuvre, but also the fluctuations of taste that have variously affected the reception of his work over the years.