KLEIN, William. Life Is Good & Good For You In New York Trance Witness Revels. (Paris): (Éditions du Seuil, Album Petite Planète 1), (1956).

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KLEIN, William.
Life Is Good & Good For You In New York Trance Witness Revels.
(Paris): (Éditions du Seuil, Album Petite Planète 1), (1956).

4to (275 × 215 mm), pp.192. 274 black-and-white photographs printed in gravure, text in French and English. Black-and-white photo-illustrated endpapers. Black cloth-covered boards, spine lettered in white; light spotting to preliminary and end pages, strip of sunning to head and foot of spine. Colour pictorial dust-jacket; minor wear to head of spine, edges, and corners, scratching to front panel, rubbing to rear. 16pp. leaflet of illustrated captions laid in as issued; minor creasing. Near-fine in an excellent dust-jacket.

First edition. Life Is Good & Good For You In New York… represents Klein’s attempt to capture the kinetic quality of 1950s New York as he saw it, ‘the noise, the dirt and the madness.’ Rejecting traditional ideas of sharpness, brightness, and composition, Klein also experimented with the layout: having use of the Vogue darkrooms and access to their Photostat machine allowed him to try many ideas, cutting and pasting and playing with scale and sequencing quickly and easily. ‘Traditional photography books put me to sleep... They were untouchable, academic, and boring. For me, design, graphics, and layout were almost as important as the photographs themselves. And that’s why I did everything I could to create a new kind of visual book’.

In an interview in the January 2013 issue of Sight & Sound magazine Klein recounts: ‘Well, I didn’t know how to do a book. I was just discovering photography and once I had all these pictures, I showed them to editors in New York and nobody thought it was worthwhile to do a book with these photographs. They said, “What is this shit?” I came back to Paris and discovered there was a series of travel books called Petite Planète. I called them up and got an appointment and I went to this office which looked like NASA. Chris Marker was there with a laser gun in his belt, and he saw the photographs and said, “We’ll do a book!” In fact he said, “We’ll do a book or I quit!”’ This was the first of several collaborations, Klein and his wife Janine later appeared as ‘men of the future’ in Marker’s seminal film La Jetée (1962), with Klein providing the English narration.

Sinibaldi, A. and Couturier, J-L., Regards sur un siècle de photographie à travers Le Livre (117); Roth A., The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth Century pp.140-2; Parr, M. and Badger, G., The Photobook: A History vol.I p.243; Roth, A., The Open Book: A History of the Photographic Book from 1878 to the Present pp.164-5; Auer, M. and M., 802 photo books from the M + M Auer collection p.365; Errata Editions: Books on Books no.5.



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