This provocative photograph of men standing before urinals in a public bathroom is a superb example of Klein's bold, graphic style and his attraction to taboo subjects. By violating traditional notions of propriety about where in society the camera should go, Klein helped inaugurate a new era of American photography. No longer content with pre-World War II objectivity, Klein and Robert Frank, among others, carried the medium from documentary expression to Beat memoir, from the seemingly orderly world of facts to the chaotic, intense, and often sensual realm of visual poetry.
Inscription: Inscribed and signed in pencil on mount, verso BL to BR: "Urinals, New York 1954 William Klein"; artist's stamp in ink on mount, verso CR: "William Klein // 9, rue falguiere, paris // seg 51.34"; stamped in blue ink on mount, BLC: "export[illegible] // Paris"; dealer's inscription in pencil on mount, verso BC: "PF39496 BKV.242"
The artist; [Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 33," September 23, 2002–February 23, 2003.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Few Are Chosen: Street Photography and the Book, 1936-1966," November 5, 2004–March 6, 2005.
Milwaukee Art Museum. "Street Seen: The Psychological Gesture in American Photograph, 1940-1960," January 30, 2010–April 25, 2010.