About photobooks – old and new.
Life is good and good for you in New York: Trance Witness Revels
Editions du Seuil, Album, Petite Planete, Paris, 1956
Hardcover, black cloth and illustrated dust jacket
4to: 194 pp + booklet of 16 pp
After living in France for a while, Klein returned to his hometown, New York, for 8 months, in 1954. This book is a kind of “diary of what it felt like to come back home “ indicated Klein. He was twenty-six years old and ready to explore new media and experiment new esthetic paths. A lot of the pictures in this book are the result of his improvisation with a camera, giving them a genuine raw style, but also a kinetic feeling. These pictures translate well the feeling of the place, capturing well the rough and vertiginous energy of the city. “This city of headlines and gossip and sensation,” Klein said. “…needed a kick in the balls.” “For me photography was good old-fashioned muckraking and sociology… I could imagine my pictures lying in the gutter… I was a newspaperman! Or a Frenchman. One time in Harlem I cooled things down by saying I was French. “Hey! This guy ain’t white. He’s French!”.
The book itself is regarded as one of the most influential and groundbreaking photobooks. It represents a departure from the cannons of that time, breaking all conventional rules, mixing full bleed pages with multiple white border pictures. Maybe not surprisingly, Klein did not find an American publisher interested in his work and had to go back to Paris to publish it.