William Klein - Photographs London Wednesday, October 31, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Exhibited

    Photographisme: William Klein, Gérard Ifert, Wojciech Zamecznik, Centre Pompidou, Paris, 8 November 2017 - 29 January 2018, another

  • Literature

    K. Ziębińska-Lewandowska, Photographisme: William Klein, Gérard Ifert, Wojciech Zamecznik, Paris: Centre Pompidou, 2017, p. 73

  • Catalogue Essay

    William Klein works across multiple disciplines: photography, painting, cinematography and graphic art. In 1952, Klein returned to Paris after two years of national military service. Keen to pursue his career as a painter, he was highly influenced by the work of Fernand Léger, Ellsworth Kelly and László Moholy Nagy. That same year, he received a commission for the cover of Domus, an Italian architecture and design magazine.

    Seizing this opportunity, Klein set about creating works for a cover that was abstract yet entirely photographic – a marriage of graphic design and photography. In the darkroom, Klein would cut shapes out of paper then place the cut-out paper on the enlarger. He would then transmit light through the cut outs and by moving the paper around 'paint' directly onto the photosensitive paper. After he had developed the print, he would continue cutting out shapes of coloured paper and affixing them to the work, culminating in a collage that he would finally shoot with his camera. The resulting photograph is what he considered the final artwork. In the present lot, we see Klein’s flowing black ‘traces’, created photographically, interrupted by four yellow circles. Filling and expanding off the edge of the frame, these ‘traces’ push the boundaries of photography and reveal its ability to depict non-representational matter.

    It has only been in the last decade that Klein has returned to this period of his work, culminating in the 2017 exhibition Photographisme: Klein, Ifert, Zamecznik at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which examined how William Klein, Gérard Ifert and Wojciech Zamecznik combined photography with other media in the 1950s and 60s.The present lot, created between 1952-53 during the peak of this period in his career, is appearing at auction for the first time.


Black traces + 4 yellow pastilles

Archival pigment print, printed 2018, flush-mounted.
Image: 208.8 x 159 cm (82 1/4 x 62 5/8 in.)
Frame: 213.5 x 164.5 cm (84 x 64 3/4 in.)

Signed in ink, printed title, date and number 1/3 on an artist label affixed to the reverse of the frame.

£25,000 - 35,000 

Sold for £30,000

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+33 1 53 71 77 87

Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4098


London Auction 1 November 2018