William Klein: Outstanding Contribution to Photography

Antonia Simone Barbershop New York 1961 Vogue. William Klein.

He didn't start out as a photographer. He was an artist who'd studied under Fernard Léger in Paris and happened to be exhibiting in Milan when his photographs of some turning panels inspired him to explore photography as a medium. Then he was spotted by Alexander Liberman and brought back to New York (he was a New Yorker by birth) to work for American Vogue. He worked on films with Fellini and made some himself. He's been exhibited all over the world. He won himself a reputation as an 'anti-photogrpaher's photographer', but still picked up award, after award, after award.

He's William Klein. And this year he's being honoured with the Oustanding Contribution to Photography Award at the Sony World Photography Awards.

Klein is famous for his high-grain film and his wide-angle shots. He has captured New York, Rome, Moscow, and Tokyo in their naked realism. His fashion photography favoured street and location shoots, not carefully controlled studios. His films, including Who are you Polly Maggoo? and The Model Couple were satires. Moving between art, photography, and film, he has always been an uncompromising and frequently controversial commentator on modern life.

So at the age of 83, he has been honoured with this award that recognises 'a body of work of incredible diversity, depth and individuality,' says Simon Baker.

Congratulations, Mr Klein.

There will be an exhibition celebrating his work at Somerset House, London, from 27 April to 20 May 2012.