For some reason best known to the curators at the Tate Modern they’ve decided to hold a joint exhibition on to vastly different but highly influential photographers with distinct philosophies of their trade.
The result of course is that people feel honor bound to pick a favorite.
Klein is up first and his work is even more wonderful in large format than it is in the books of his work I possess.
For me he’s one of the top ten street photographers of all time because he does something few would dare to do. Get super up close and personal with his subjects.
As Capa said if you’re pictures aren’t good enough you’re not close enough and Klein seems to have taken this idea to the streets allowing his subjects to get right up in his grille.
Most people are scared to take candied shots at any distance. Klein displays a particular lack of fear like a soldier bayoneting a victim.
For me this aggressive approach makes him the quintessential New York street photographer, as NY is a city that is always in your face, just like Klein.
Of course his skill didn’t stop when he left New York. His pictures of Rome are astounding and capture the spirit of the people, something only a deeply empathetic being can do.
Oh and it f that wasn’t enough Klein is also a superb fashion photographer, artist and film maker
Indeed the last skill was unknown to me until I attended this exhibition and I left deeply impressed with his abilities, as was Stanley Kubrick who declared admiration for his fashion satire ‘Who is Polly Magoo?’
Now Moriyama. Here is a man who takes photographs not as way of crafting artful moments form reality but as a way of making sense of the world around him. The results can be wildly uneven as many image only really work in the context of other pictures.
That said when he hits he really hits, creating strange gritty images that highlight the world’s alien nature.
He seems like a man with a deep sense of discomfort with the world around him. His camera acts as both a protection from reality and way of understanding it.
I also think his work suffers from my own shortcomings in that I lack an understanding of the society that these images spring from.
Still I do like his style and count him as one of the first names that comes to mind when I’m looking to create darker rougher street imagery.
So if have to pick, its Klein by a unanimous decision with no knockdowns.