Contrast | photographs by William Klein

William Klein (1928 – )  is gracing the walls of Foam (photography museum Amsterdam) from December 20th untill March 12th. The exhibition focuses on his work in the 1950s and how he challenged the concept that only perfect photographs (perfect composition, perfect subject, perfectly in focus) could be beautiful.

What I really enjoyed was how Klein played with contrast. Here, three different types of contrast

Contrast in colour

simone nina piazza di spagna rome 1960 vogue c william klein

Klein played with the contrast between black and white in his photography to create a graphic feel and to add interest. In the picture above the black and white crossing, repeated in the dresses, creates structure. However, the model glancing back at the other (as if to say ‘hey, is she wearing the same thing’) adds humour and imperfection.

Contrast in context 


The contrast is also visible in the subject matter and set up of the photographs. Many photographs feature a main subject (who is often off-centred or perhaps even blurred) whose emotion or features contrast with things that are happening in the background. I love the photograph featured above – the contrast of the young woman, full of life in a small black bikini vs. the old man snoozing in the background in his white suit.

Contrast in creation


Finally, spanning Klein’s work is the contrast in his creation. Some photographs seem to be random snapshots. On the other hand, other photographs have clearly been altered and adjusted in the darkroom. Using lighting techniques in the dark room Klein has transformed the photograph from a standard fashion photo to a picture with movement.

Photographs by William Klein


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