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The Street Life

William Klein, the cranky old man of American photography, has a new book, “Paris + Klein,” in which he captures street life in the City of Light.

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Klein has enjoyed more general acclaim in France than at home. A major exposition last year at La Maison Europeene de la Photographie, he boasts, was their most visited show ever. (The Howard Greenberg Gallery in New York is also showing work from "Tokyo" until May 3.)

"Being an expatriate doesn’t go down well in America," Klein explains. "My way of living and working is that I’ll do my thing. I went from one thing to another. That annoyed people. They didn’t know how to categorize me."

Klein sees himself like Man Ray, the expatriate American in Paris who was ignored by the American art establishment until after his death. Now, Klein points out, Man Ray is considered a master, a "giant."

"I’m considered a marginal character," Klein says. "Does that annoy me? Yeah, a little bit. But as Malcolm X [whom Klein met in making "Muhammad Ali: The Greatest," showing April 11 at Film Forum] said, ‘The chickens come home to roost.’"

Klein has never doubted his own contribution to photography. Today more than ever, it seems, he sees himself as the fox in the henhouse.
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