(Art)Books we love | Astonish Me

Another #artbookfriday with a new really cool art book. Today I have a massive retrospective volume for you about the photography legend Philippe Halsman. When I saw the announcement of this book I knew I needed it. I love photography and there are a lot of photographers I’d like to know more about. Philippe Halsman was one of them. I hardly knew much about him before I got the book but a few of his iconic images like Salvador Dali’s flamboyant moustache portrait, Richard Nixon jumping in the West Wing, Grace Kelly’s amazing profile or the Life cover with Marilyn Monroe. Well, there is much more to know about Halsman.

Comprising hundreds of photographs and insightful accompanying texts, the book explores Halsman’s whole work in a variety of aspects. It examines his early career in Paris in the 1930ies; his experiments with portraiture, particularly the series of stunning images of Marilyn Monroe and his more than 100 covers for Life magazine; his pictures of the contemporary art scene that include famous dancers, movie stars, stage actors, and musicians and the birth of his “jumpology” concept; and his unique, 30-year collaboration with Salvador Dali, including a book devoted entirely to the artist’s moustache. Anyone interested in portraiture, celebrity, performance art or fashion should take a look at this book.

Philippe Halsman (1906 – 1979) had an impressive career that lasted over forty years from his beginnings in Paris to the success of his studio in New York between 1940 and 1970. The books includes photographs of every decade and it’s very interesting how his style changed and how he adapted to new trends and changed the way advertisement and cover shoots were made.

During his time in Paris he collaborated with Vogue, Vu and Voilà magazines and shot portraits of numerous celebrities and artists such as Marc Chagall, Le Corbusier and André Malraux.

He immigrated to the USA at 1940. They settled in New York and he worked for numerous American magazines including Life, the first magazine illustrated solely with photos which was published on a weekly basis. It became THE American magazine for over 30 years until television became popular and a mass medium in the 1970ies. Through his work he met many celebrities like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Grace Kelly and Albert Einstein. In all he shot 101 covers for Life magazine and hundreds of portraits and ads for different campaigns. Fashion advertisement was one of his specialties.

He also pushed the boundaries of photography as a mere documentary medium and was highly influenced by the Surrealists. Long before digital photography and software like Photoshop he manipulated his pictures until they became something different than just regular photos. For more than 30 years he worked in close collaboration with Salvador Dalí and invented ‘jumpology’, which consisted in taking photos of famous people jumping as a way of obtaining more natural and spontaneous pictures of his subjects. He explored the medium photography more than anyone before him which is one of the reasons he is considered one of the most important photographers of all times.

This is one of the best monographs about a photographer I ever had!

See more pictures in the exhibition trailer of Jeu de Paume:

The Book

Philippe Halsman Astonish Me

Philippe Halsman Astonish Me

Philippe Halsman Astonish Me

Philippe Halsman Astonish Me

Philippe Halsman Astonish Me

Philippe Halsman Astonish Me

#artbook | Philippe Halsmann: Astonish Me!

#author | Sam Stourdzé

#language | English

#publishing house | Prestel

#ISBN | 978-3-7913-4907-7

#pages | 319

#published | 2015

you can get your copy here.

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