The excitement I felt in making a FIFTY ONE publication about William Klein's extraordinary oeuvre was matched only by the difficulty of the task at hand.
So many exquisite books about Klein's work have been published already. Making a selection of images that can offer extra insight into the way he looks at the world was close to impossible. Klein radically changed photography as a medium, and he changed the way we look at photographs. He is a painter pure-sang; this is not only apparent in his painted contacts, but it's also clear from his broader vision. He crops images like a painter. He surrenders to abstraction like a painter. He shoots films like a painter. He registers colours and situations like a painter. He mixes all these aspects to end up with his unparalleled view of the world.
William Klein is also a driven book designer. He composes books in the same way he composes his images, every page brimming with feeling, contrast, tension and rhythm.By doing so he emerges an outstanding storyteller without claiming to be one.
I love his work and I love him; we've been working together for more than 20 years. His gentleness towards me might be related to his love for Belgium—his late wife was Belgian, the Belgian coast still moves him, he's fond of Kim Clijsters and some of our most colourful personalities (Robbe De Hert, Ann Demeulemeester...). I was tremendously touched by the Roger photo he sent me one New Year's Day. He took it during one of his trips through Belgium.
His trust humbles me. This book is my present to him. But it was also a present to me because I got to dive into his huge archive looking for unpublished work. What a delight! Especially the rediscovery of his early images enabled me to combine his urban photographs with those iconic fashion images and powerful abstract works.
This book is also a present to you.
Roger Szmulewicz, January 2020
21 x 14.8 cm