"Most people stiffen with self-consciousness when they pose for a
photograph. Lighting and fine camera equipment are useless if the
photographer cannot make them drop the mask, at least for a moment,
so he can capture on his film their real, undistorted personality
and character. " Philippe Halsman joined Magnum Photos in 1951 and
became a Contributing Member in 1956.
American, b. Latvia 1906, d. USA 1979
Philippe Halsman was born in Riga and began to take photographs in
Paris in the 1930s. He opened a portrait studio in Montparnasse in
1934, where he photographed André Gide, Marc Chagall, André Malraux,
Le Corbusier and other writers and artists, using an innovative
twin-lens reflex camera that he had designed himself. He arrived in
the United States in 1940, just after the fall of France, having
obtained an emergency visa through the intervention of Albert
In the course of his prolific career in America, Halsman produced
reportage and covers for most major American magazines, including a
record 101 covers for Life magazine. His assignments brought him
face-to-face with many of the century's leading personalities.
In 1945 he was elected the first president of the American Society
of Magazine Photographers, where he led the fight for photographers'
creative and professional rights. His work soon won international
recognition, and in 1951 he was invited by the founders of Magnum
Photos to join the organization as a 'contributing member', so that
they could syndicate his work outside the United States. This
arrangement still stands.
Halsman began a thirty-seven-year collaboration with Salvador Dalí
in 1941 which resulted in a stream of unusual 'photographs of
ideas', including 'Dalí Atomicus' and the 'Dalí's Mustache' series.
In the early 1950s, Halsman began to ask his subjects to jump for
his camera at the conclusion of each sitting. These uniquely witty
and energetic images have become an important part of his
Philippe Halsman died in New York City on 25 June 1979.
1998 Philippe Halsman: A Retrospective - National Portrait Gallery,
Washington, D.C., USA
1998 Halsman Retrospective, Bulfinch Press, USA; Editions du
1989 Halsman at Work, Harry N. Abrams, USA
1983 Portraits, McCraw-Hill Book Company, USA
1979 Halsman, International Center of Photography, USA
1972 Sight & Insight, Doubleday & Company, USA
1961 Philippe Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas,
A.S. Barnes and Company, USA
1959/86 Jumpbook, Simon & Schuster, USA; Harry N. Abrams, USA
1954/94 Dali’s Mustache, Simon & Schuster, USA
1949/06 The Frenchman, Simon & Schuster, USA; Benedikt Taschen, UK