Portraits of cities: William Klein + Daido Moriyama at Tate Modern
William Klein + Daido Moriyama is possibly the best thing I’ve seen all year. Comparing and contrasting both photographers’ approaches to street life in New York and Tokyo, it instantly appealed to my love of graphics and energy in documentary photography. Years ago I saw a Garry Winogrand exhibition at The Hayward and I still vividly remember those in-yer-face compositions of life in New York. Some of these reminded me of those.
The exhibition space is a layout of vast, high ceiling-ed rooms that give breathing space to the biggest and most dramatic Klein artworks (he often mashed up photography and art by sploshing paint around the borders of the image or across the image itself for even greater impact). Like his wide-angle compositions that put you in the midst of the action, the design of the exhibition repeats Klein’s sense of big city chaos. Framed photos are densely ordered row on row, depicting the busyness and character of Rome, Moscow, Tokyo and New York. Also integral are the photo books on display by both Klein and Moriyama, many on loan from Martin Parr’s extensive collection.
Moriyama’s work is less punchy and more detached than Klein’s, with greyer, grainier portraits of Tokyo and New York street life. They didn’t have such an immediate impact for me but I loved the room of Polaroid montages towards the end. The exhibition is on at Tate Modern until 20th January and I highly recommend going on a Friday evening to avoid the weekend crowds.