An extraordinary collection of the four major William Klein 'City Books'--New York, Rome, Tokyo & Moscow, ALL SIGNED by Klein!!
[A note on the signatures: All of the books are 'flat signed.' It is Klein's habit at book signing events these days to 'inscribe' ('dear so & so') rather than to 'flat sign' with a signature only; for collectors, the latter is considered somewhat more valuable.]
New York: Life is Good & Good For You In New York! Trance Witness Revels. Photographs and design by William Klein. Editions du Seuil, Album Petite Planète, Paris 1956. 194 pp. with 16 pp. caption booklet. Quarto. First French edition. Flat SIGNED, title page. Clothbound with graphically illustrated dust jacket. Caption booklet laid in. Illustrated endpapers. Numerous full-page gravure reproductions.
Near Fine+/Fine-; shallow surface split along 1" [2.5 cm] front hinge; very slight spine tilt; Near Fine+/Fine- dust jacket; small chip at head of spine [3 mm]; moderate edge wear.
"Improvising, thriving on accident and surprise, Klein turned out raw, kinetic, and utterly original photographs--each one a gut reaction to the energy of the urban street," writes Vince Aletti in Roth, et. al., The Book of 101 Books. Picking up on the same theme Martin Parr and Gerry Badger write that the "book's internal rhythm contains as many cadences, breaks and unexpected flights of fancy as a Sonny Rollins sax solo" [The Photobook: A History, Vol. 1). Aletti goes on to say that "...Between [its] covers, rules were being broken. No two pages were alike: full-bleed images were followed by white-bordered pictures set on black pages; a stack of small photos was set next to a shot so big it straddled the gutter; one spread looked like a scrapbook, another like a checkerboard. A long, narrow insert that looked like a supermarket handout contained rambling captions peppered with bra ads, tabloid headlines, a Mad magazine cover, a can of spaghetti. It was cheesy, delirious, pure Pop art. Klein went on to make similarly splashy books on Rome (1958-59), Tokyo (1964), and Moscow (1964), as well as the inevitable films, but New York remains matchless, a time bomb that's never been defused."
Rome. The City and Its People. Photographs by William Klein. Excerpted texts by numerous writers. A Studio Book/Viking Press, 1960. 189 pp. Quarto. First edition. Flat SIGNED on title page w/ signature + 'Rome Sweet Rome'. Clothbound in illustrated dust jacket. Photo-illustrated endpapers. Numerous gravure illustrations. Text in English.
Fine- dust jacket; super bright; moderate edge wear; and a few tiny [1-2 mm] 'nicks' to extremities; shallow crease, inside rear flap; Near Fine+; small split [1/2"; 1 cm] bottom of rear hinge; a bit of uneven fading; tiny [1 mm] nick to cloth, upper edge; corners just slightly imperfect;
While considerably less 'in-your-face' than New York, Klein's Rome nonetheless presents a picture of a city in constant motion, stopping only occasionally to strike a pose of one sort or another, which Klein, ever attentive to fashion and gesture, seems to almost choreograph at will. If in his New York book it seems as if 'all that is solid melts into air', in many of the Rome pictures the presence of ruins and centuries old buildings create surreal juxtapositions that suggest the persistence of the antique in the face of 'la dolce vita.'
Tokyo. Photographs by William Klein. Preface by Maurice Pinguet. Crown Publishers, New York, 1964. 184 pp. Folio. First edition. Flat SIGNED, half-title page, with additional Kanji characters. Clothbound in dust jacket. Numerous full-page gravure reproductions.
Near Fine+; shelf wear to lower board edges; slight corner imperfections; Fine jacket, also super bright, with just a few tiny 'nicks' at corners.
A book that has to be held in one's hands to be appreciated! Klein's Tokyo streetscapes are so kinetic, and the gravure printing so rich and tonally varied that scans can hardly do it justice!
"Like Hokusai, William Klein has created a Manga--a sudden throng of images, faces, streets, crowds, and attitudes, intense and confused, where the past merges with the future in an uproar of appearances...The first thing to understand is that this teeming madhouse is Tokyo--contradictory and confused, makeshift and planless, frenetic and discordant, Eastern and Western."--from Maurice Pinguet's preface
Moscow. Photographs by William Klein. Preface by Harrison Salisbury. Crown, New York, 1964. 184 pp. Folio. First U.S. edition. Flat SIGNED, half-title page. Clothbound in graphically illustrated dust jacket. Numerous full-page gravure reproductions.
Near Fine+; lower board edge a bit soiled, with 1" [2.5 cm] areas of abrasion; price-clipped jacket is otherwise Fine-; tiny closed tear upper edge [1/4"; .5 cm]; a few tiny spots lower rear edge (2-3 mm]
Published the same year as Tokyo, Klein's look at the Soviet capital has all of the in imitable characteristics of his other city books: the harsh flash, wide-angle shots, blurring, and grainy printing used to create gritty, chaotic pictures of street life. Significantly, though, many of the images in this book subvert the cold war idea of the Soviet Union as a drab, depressing place. Amidst the laughter and leisure of everyday life in the city, even the soldiers cavort jovially in the street. Whether or not Klein's intention was to humanize the Soviets at a time when the cold war was in full swing, in his pictures Moscow comes across as an altogether more amiable place than it was portrayed in the Western media of the time.