Klein met and married Jeanne Florin, a model and painter, shortly after his arrival in Paris. The couple lived together in France until her death in 2005.
Klein, who briefly studied with the French painters Andre Lhote and Fernand Leger, had his first solo exhibition of paintings in Brussels in 1951 and in Milan a year later. In 1954, he turned his attention to photography after meeting Alexander Liberman, Vogue’s artistic director, and began a 10-year association with the magazine.
During the same period, he produced a groundbreaking photographic diary of his native New York entitled “Life is Good & Good For You in New York”. The book featured Klein’s unconventional use of wide angles, compositional contrasts and unusual framing, which came to define the still burgeoning genre of street photography.
The book was published in Paris, London and Rome in 1956 and won the Nadar Prize the following year. He published other photo diaries of other cities, Rome in 1959, Moscow and Tokyo in 1964 and Paris in 2002.
He was also a well-known filmmaker, producing several documentaries and feature films throughout his career, covering subjects such as the fashion industry, the Vietnam War and the famous boxer Muhammed Ali.
Klein first ventured into cinema in 1956, when Italian director Federico Fellini, impressed by Klein’s raw images of New York City street life, asked him to work on his 1957 film ‘Nights of Cabiria’. , about a prostitute in Rome.