Anthology Film Archives

WILLIAM KLEIN

June 3 – June 6

On the occasion of the International Center of Photography (ICP)’s new exhibition, “William Klein: YES – Photographs, Paintings, Films, 1948-2013”, Anthology hosts screenings of a selection of Klein’s extraordinary films. Though he remains best known for his photographic work (despite a resurgence of interest in his moving-image work in recent years), Klein has made numerous films over the course of his career, which run the gamut from short and feature-length documentaries to peerlessly inventive fictional satires, as well as uncategorizable works such as his globe-spanning, Handel-themed essay film MESSIAH. Dizzyingly eclectic as they are, Klein’s films are united by the same sensibility that distinguishes his photography, which itself encompasses both street and fashion photography: above all, a unique fusion of the penetrating journalistic eye of Weegee, Robert Frank, Helen Levitt, and others, and an unbridled, savagely satirical expressionism that’s more reminiscent of an artist like George Grosz.

“The case of William Klein, whose film work has received negligible commentary (especially in English), can partially be explained by pointing to the things he is not – or at least not quite. He is not quite ‘American’ – although he was born in New York City in 1928, grew up near the intersection of 108th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, and has devoted a substantial part of his film work to American subjects. He is not quite ‘French’ – although he moved to Paris in 1948 to study painting with Fernand Léger and has been based there ever since. He began making films in the late 1950s, around the same time the French New Wave was gaining prominence, and he might provisionally be regarded as a member of the so-called Left Bank group, which included Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, and Agnes Varda. Nonetheless, he is rarely mentioned in books and surveys about the New Wave or about French cinema in general. And although his first documentaries, from the early 1960s, are contemporaneous with the rise of cinéma-vérité, he does not really belong in the ranks of that movement either. Better known as a still photographer, Klein has occupied a kind of no-man’s-land in the world of film; indeed, his importance in part derives from his capacity to straddle and confound conventional categories in both media.” –Jonathan Rosenbaum, CINEMA OUTSIDER: THE FILMS OF WILLIAM KLEIN (1989)

Curated by David Campany (who will introduce the screening of WHO ARE YOU, POLLY MAGGOO? on Sunday, June 5), “William Klein: YES – Photographs, Paintings, Films, 1948-2013” is on view at the International Center of Photography from June 3-September 12, 2022; for more info visit: www.icp.org/exhibitions/william-klein-yes

All 35mm prints are courtesy of the Walker Art Center. Special thanks to William Klein; Jacque Donaldson Bailey (ICP); Brian Belovarac (Janus Films); David Campany; and Michael Walsh (Walker Art Center).

We will screen additional William Klein films later in the summer.

Upcoming Screenings

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