London Art Reviews

Magazine of art press and reviews from London

Exhibition of photographers William Klein and Daido Moryiama at Tate Modern, London.

Exhibition of photographers William Klein and Daido Moryiama at Tate Modern, London.

David Franchi – Saturday, 19th January 2012

“which shows the great influence the American photographer had on him”

William Klein, Bikini, Moscow, 1959 © William Klein

Bikini, Moscow, 1959 © William Klein

William Klein + Daido Moryiama” is about two pioneers of post-war photography, at Tate Modern, London. The exhibition is a survey of modern urban life in New York and Tokyo. William Klein is one of the 20th century’s most important photographers and filmmakers. Daido Moriyama is the most celebrated Japanese photographer of the world.

The Tate Modern exhibition is the first to look at the relationship between the work of influential photographer and filmmaker Klein, and that of Moriyama, the most celebrated photographer to emerge from the Japanese Provoke movement of the 1960s.

The style of Moriyama was shaped by the work of Klein and in particular by his book, “Life is Good & Good for You in New York” (1956). William Klein, in fact, in that publication made use of grain, blur and movement to capture the speedy power of the town.

Daido Moriyama wrote an essay in 1980 after visiting Klein in Paris titled “Finally I Meet William Klein, Whom I Can’t Get Out of My Head”, which shows the great influence the American photographer had on him.

However, at that time Moriyama had already elaborated and overcome the Klein’s energetic style. Moryiama often made books where

TOKYO, 2011, Courtesy Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation © Daido Moriyama

TOKYO, 2011, Courtesy Daido Moriyama Photo Foundation © Daido Moriyama

the context and the subject were abandoned and replaced by more indistinct subjects.

With work from the 1950s to the present day, the exhibition demonstrates the visual affinity between their urgent, blurred and grainy style of photography and also their shared desire to convey street life and political protest, from anti-war demonstrations and gay pride marches to the effects of globalisation and urban deprivation.

The urban images of Moriyama come from dark suggestions of scary places, filtered by his fantasy. At the Tate Modern exhibition Moryiama work is a bit undermined and it is not as brilliant as in his publications.

The exhibition also considers the medium and dissemination of photography itself, exploring the central role of the photo-book in avant-garde photography and the pioneering use of graphic design within these publications. As well the issues of Provoke magazine in which Moriyama and his contemporaries showcased their work, the exhibition includes fashion photography from Klein’s work with Vogue and installations relating to his satirical films.

A good proposal of “William Klein + Daido Moryiama” was to make a consistent series of event about Klein’s filmography.

William Klein’s films are an innovative major body of work as significant as his acclaimed photographic oeuvre. From ”Broadway by Light”, his directorial debut in 1958, Klein scripted, directed and designed irreverent satires addressing themes as varied as the mainstream media, high fashion (Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?, 1966), world imperialism (Mr. Freedom, 1969) and biopolitics (The Model Couple, 1975). The American expatriate, who has lived in Paris since the 1950s, also authored a number of captivating documentaries, and collaborated with the likes of filmmakers Chris Marker, Louis Malle and Alain Resnais.

Piazza di Spagna, Rome 1960 © William Klein

Piazza di Spagna, Rome 1960 © William Klein

This survey of Klein’s work in cinema is presented in the Starr Auditorium to accompany the exhibition “William Klein + Daido Moriyama”, featuring rarely seen documentaries, such as The Pan-African Festival of Algiers (1969), and Messiah (1999), Klein’s visual interpretation of Handel’s oratorio as a choral portrait of contemporary life.

William Klein is born in New York, on 19th April 1928, into an impoverished Jewish family. He is both a photographer and filmmaker renowned for his ironic approach. Another of his characteristic is the usage of unusual photographic techniques in the context of photojournalism and fashion photography.

Klein’s work is considered revolutionary for its “ambivalent and ironic approach to the world of fashion”, its “uncompromising rejection of the then prevailing rules of photography” and for his extensive use of wide-angle and telephoto lenses, natural lighting and motion blur.

Together with Robert Frank, photography books cite William Klein as among the fathers of street photography.

William Klein get graduated from high school early and enrolled at the City College of New York at the age of 14 to study sociology. He joined the US Army and was sent to Germany and later France, where he would permanently settle after being discharged.

In 1948, Klein enrolled at the Sorbonne, and studied under Fernand Léger. At the time, he was involved with abstract painting and sculpture. In 1952, he had two successful solo exhibitions in Milan and started to join forces with architect Angelo Mangiarotti.

Klein also experimented with kinetic art. At an exhibition of his kinetic sculptures he met Alexander Liberman, the art director for Vogue, who made his fortune as fashion photographer.

Despite having no training as a photographer, Klein won the Prix Nadar in 1957 for New York, a book of photographs taken during a brief return to his hometown in 1954.

In 1966, Klein directed his first feature film “Who Are You, Polly Maggoo?”, and he has since directed many others. He has directed numerous short and feature-length documentaries and has produced over 250 television commercials.

In 1999 William Klein was awarded The Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS).

Daido (Hiromichi) Moriyama is born on 10th October 1938, at Ikeda-cho (now Ikeda-shi), Osaka. He is famous for his images depicting

ANOTHER COUNTRY IN NEW YORK, 1971, Tokyo Polytechnic University © Daido Moriyama

ANOTHER COUNTRY IN NEW YORK, 1971, Tokyo Polytechnic University © Daido Moriyama

the breakdown of traditional values in post-war Japan.

Daido Moriyama studied photography under Takeji Iwamiya before moving to Tokyo in 1961 to work as an assistant to Eikoh Hosoe. In March of the same year, he also joined the eminent photographers group VIVO, but the group was about to dissolve.

In 1964, Moriyama began his career as a freelance photographer, frequently shot around American base in Yokosuka.

It is typical of his work to show the dark sides of urban life and the less-seen parts of cities. Moryiama in his work underline the differences between certain areas of the same towns. He predominantly takes high contrast, grainy, black and white photographs within the Shinjuku area of Tokyo, often shot from odd angles.

Daido Moriyama has made uncountable exhibitions and publications. He also has been awarded New Artist Award from the Japan Photo Critics Association (1967), Photographer of the Year Award from the Photographic Society of Japan (1983), Mainichi Art Award (2003) and Der Kulturpreis (The Cultural Award) der Deutschen Gesellschaft fur Photographie and Lifetime Achievement Award from The Photographic Society of Japan (2004).

“William Klein + Daido Moriyama” exhibition is curated by Simon Baker first-ever photography curator at Tate Modern. Tate Film is supported by Maja Hoffmann / LUMA Foundation.

At Tate Modern, Southbank, London,William Klein + Daido Moriyama” is on show from 10th October 2012 until 20th January 2013.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


This entry was posted on January 19, 2013 by in Museums, News and tagged , , , , , , .


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,219 other followers

Follow London Art Reviews on

Follow me on Twitter


No Instagram images were found.

%d bloggers like this: