Life Is Good and Good For You In New York: Trance Witness Revels [inscribed]
by William Klein
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Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1956. First edition. 4to (28,5x23cm), black cloth in unclipped dust jacket with silver-lettered spine. 194pp. Text in French. Dust jacket with several small chips and creases to spine-ends and corners. Moderate creases to flap folds. A few small stains to front and rear board. Front hinge cracked, but not detached, though binding remains firm. Mild crease on index page. Tourist brochure is missing, but inscribed by William Klein at title page. Still, a very good copy in good dust jacket of a truly scarce book.
William Klein’s most influential and groundbreaking photo book Life Is Good and Good For You in New York: Trance Witness Revels doesn’t need much introduction. A photo book that inspired a whole generation of photographers, who took the language of Klein and adopted it to their own urban environments, most famously – Daido Moriyama. Something that might not be well-known is the crucial role Chris Marker played in this publication.
After working for eight years in Paris as an abstract painter, William Klein returned to New York and decided to make a photographic record of his impressions. Due to his lack of photographic training, he developed his own visual language. The book is a stream of consciousness designed by William Klein himself, with its offbeat and asymmetrical arrangements and large blow-ups.
The dilemma of being ahead of his time led to several rejections by publishers in America. But back in Paris, Klein got to know the Petite Planète series, which he admired and subsequently contacted Éditions du Seuil.
Chris Marker, who worked there as an editor, was excited by Klein’s book dummy and threatened to resign from Éditions du Seuil, if they refused to publish the book. In an interview of Sight & Sound magazine from 2013, William Klein described the situation like this,
“I came back to Paris and discovered there was a series of travel books called Petite Planète. I called them up and got an appointment and I went to this office which looked like NASA. Chris Marker was there with a laser gun in his belt, and he saw the photographs and said, “We’ll do a book!” In fact he said, “We’ll do a book or I quit!””
Life Is Good and Good For You In New York: Trance Witness Revels was published as Album Petite Planète 1, which remained the only issue in this series.
This copy is inscribed by Klein to the Gazette Lausanne, a daily Swiss newspaper in French language (1798-1991), which was one of the main organs of cultural information in French-speaking Switzerland, when Life Is Good and Good For You In New York: Trance Witness Revels, was published.