LONDON (Reuters) - A toy gun-wielding child, New York high society at play and bored Tokyo commuters are just a few of the startling images at a new Tate Modern exhibition exploring the relationship between two of the 20th century’s leading street-life photographers.
“William Klein + Daido Moriyama” features more than 300 vintage prints, paintings, original photo books and installations by U.S. photographers Klein and Japan’s Moriyama in a show which runs from October 10 until January 20.
“We wanted to do a show where you have the (photo) book at the heart of the exhibition, particularly William Klein’s book about New York, which is probably the most influential photo book of all time...and the idea of combining with Moriyama was natural because he was very influenced by William,” co-curator Simon Baker told Reuters at a preview.
The two photographers are known for stark and candid photographs of street-life in the 1960s.
Huge black and white murals pasted to the Tate Modern’s walls greet visitors, depicting the daily lives of people in New York, Tokyo and Moscow, capturing scenes of high society at a ball, children outside a candy store or commuters at a station.
Laid out as two halves of a conversation held between the two artists, visitors may recognize one of Klein’s more famous portraits for fashion magazine Vogue on the Piazza di Spagna in Rome, where two elegantly dressed models wearing contrasting monochrome dresses are seen strutting on a zebra crossing surrounded by pedestrians and motorists.
Another picture, daubed with thick yellow paint, shows a young boy holding a toy gun aggressively towards the camera aiming directly at Klein, who produced a series of photo essays on New York, Rome and Tokyo each with his usual trademark wide-angle lens and candid close-ups of its citizens.
Moriyama’s evocative images of Tokyo’s actors and night performers, bored commuters at train stations, and a lone dog, which came to represent the artist in his later years, make up the second half of the show.
Rows of frames each featuring the carefully arranged juxtapositions of photographs from Moriyama’s first photo book, “Japan: A Photo Theatre”, are laid out page by page for visitors against a vast wall.
The show also features a series of close-ups of seemingly ordinary objects from clothing, machinery and flowers that are transformed with a play on light and shadow into surreal yet recognizable images.
If visitors manage to get some feeling of Japan or Tokyo in particular, then this would be great, Moriyama told Reuters, whose use of blurring, scratches and grainy visual effects in his book of abstract compositions “Sayonara Photography” has made it a lasting favorite.
“With most artists, they’ll always say that (their) latest work is the best, or the next one they’re producing is the best but at the same time, having looked around here, the one thing that does stick in my memory all the time, is ‘Sayonara Photography’.”
“That book, that collection...those are the ones that stayed with me throughout my career,” Moriyama added.
The series has been described as some of the wildest photographs ever made, Baker added, who worked alongside co-curators Juliet Bingham and Kasia Redzisz.
“The photograph is being really pushed to the limit of what it can represent and I think this is something that is really important in both artists’ work.”
Reporting by Li-mei Hoang, editing by Paul Casciato