William Klein is an artist, photographer and filmmaker who was born in New York in 1928. After studying Sociology at City College, New York, he spent two years stationed in Europe with the U.S army, before settling in Paris to become a painter. Klein's career as an artist (who has experimented predominately with the camera) was ignited following a period as assistant to Cubist artist Fernand Leger.
Klein's graphic style also appealed to the design world and in 1952 he painted and exhibited a collection of abstract murals for the Italian architectural community in Milan. In 1954 Klein returned to New York and began working on a series of documentary photographs of his home city and its inhabitants. The photographs, 'Life is Good and Good for You in New York' was published in Paris in 1956.
In 1955 Klein was invited to work for U.S Vogue - his unconventional snapshot style earning him status as an innovator in the field of fashion photography. With numerous photography books under his belt - after New York came 'Rome' (1960), 'Moscow' (1964) and 'Tokyo' (1964) - and a decade of shooting fashion stills, Klein's interest in film making inspired him to put down his camera and make his debut as a director.
From 1965 he made a succession of documentaries, including: 'Broadway by Light' (1958), iconic fashion satire (and his first feature film) 'Who are You Polly Maggoo?' (1966), 'Mr. Freedom' (1969), 'Muhammad Ali The Greatest' (1969), 'The Little Richard Story' (1980) and his last film, 'The Messiah' (1999).
In the 90s Klein resumed his photography and has exhibited both his photographs and film widely internationally. He currently lives and works in Paris.