View Full Version : Discussing a Philippe Halsman Photograph

df cardwell
08-17-2006, 03:13 PM
I grew up with Halsman's pictures,
and later had the chance to spend some time with him.

He said he liked this one, of Marilyn, from 1959.

The 'jumping' came about in the early '50s,
when folks were either too reserved to make a good picture,
or afraid of 'revealing' themselves to the perceptive Halsman.
In time, people asked Halsman if they could jump for him.

Here are a few more beauties of whom Halsman was fond.

I dare anybody to talk about a PICTURE !

More on Halsman can be found here:

Bill Mitchell
08-17-2006, 03:30 PM
I always thought that the jump thing was pretty silly.
Halsman's well-deserved fame unfortunately seems to have been quite transient. His print prices are mostly pretty low compared with those of his peers. Much of the credit for his work should go to his wife and collaborator.
My own favorite is "Dali Atomicus," a technical triumph at the time, but now child's play in Photoshop. Sic Gloria Whatever.

Peter De Smidt
08-17-2006, 05:53 PM
I have his "Jump" book. It's _very_ good. The silliness caused people to act more naturally. There's nothing wrong with a little silliness.

Bill Hahn
08-17-2006, 06:46 PM
Since I'm ancient, I seem to remember seeing some of the 'jump' pictures in Life, or some other magazine, when I was 9 or so. If someone can find the one of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor jumping in their stocking feet, and post it here, I would relive one of my childhood memories.

That said, "Dali Atomicus" is also an old favorite of mine. I bought a postcard with that image years ago, long before I got interested in photography, because I thought it perfectly illustrated the problem with software configuration management. ("Uh, what cat was in the air when we built the product 18 months ago?")

I also was surprised to find text of Halsmann interviewing W. Eugene Smith in the book "Dream Street" about Smith's Pittsburgh project. (See page 130.)

Bill Hahn
08-17-2006, 06:49 PM
Oh, and I like the Marilyn portrait - and it probably made a refreshing change for her when she posed for it....

Bill Hahn
08-17-2006, 06:53 PM
Ahh, found the Duke and Duchess of Windsor on the Magnum link. Quite different than the Avedon portrait ("my cab ran over a dog just like that"). Thanks for reminding me of Halsman....and I'll shut up at this point, probably too late.

Peter De Smidt
08-17-2006, 07:00 PM
Here's what Halsman wrote about the picture:

"When Marilyn Monroe jumped in my studio, she bent her knees and, like a little girl, threw her legs backward. The legs disappeared and, in the moment of the picture, I saw a truncated torso. without realizing the excellence of this image, I complained that I could not see her legs.
"Marilyn," I said, "try to express your character a little more."
"You mean that my jump shows my character?" she saked hesitantly.
"Of course," I answered. "Please try it once more."
But Mrailyn stood there, pale, as though paralyzed, unable to jump. After a painful pause which seemed like an eternity, I spoke up: "All right, Marilyn, let us do some other pictures."

Claire Senft
08-17-2006, 08:05 PM
Firstly, which which photo is being discussed? During my working life I was no great shakes as an accountant. I do suffer from dilexia. Double vision is not an ailment is suspect myself to be suffering from.

I am going to guess that you are daring me to talk about the left most photo. This photo appears almost as if it is a picture of my good and most bosumed friend Norma Jean.

Now NJ..come on we are not talking about the state next to NY, was a rather pretty female. Some there were that thought she was somewhat 'sexy'. I guess everyone is entitled to their own opinion. My own opinion was that given a chance NJ could have been a sucessful Hollywood actress..who knows?

The photo appears to be in focus and in color. In this rendition of NJ her hair seem somewhat lighter than I remeber it to be. Do you think..how shall I put this?..the cuff matches the collar..if you get my drift? Well any photo worth introspection may raise a question and the foregoing is the question brought to my mind.

Have I made you day by accepting your thown down gauntlet?

08-17-2006, 08:11 PM
They are great.

Each is great in their own right.

And if you'll excuse the rather gay designer quote, " they add a touch of whimsy". (pronounced whimthy).


08-18-2006, 01:55 AM
I loved these when I was twelve.

Then came the car commercials.

I like them better now, they seem to have presaged Warhol's fascination with celebrity as a useful artistic prop quite nicely (though less formally).

David H. Bebbington
08-18-2006, 02:53 AM
Halsmann was certainly someone who knew what magazine editors were looking for. I personally always found the jumping pictures gimmicky and superficial, I was surprised how many subjects went along with the idea. I was pleased to read in Peter De Smidt's post that Marilyn Monroe for one effectively told him to get lost!

For me, "Dali Atomicus" was the best picture Halsmann ever did. In contrast to the jump pictures, which just show celebrities being "good sports" and doing something silly (but not generally character-revealing), "Dali Atomicus" is in the true spirit of the subject, as must be underlined by Dali's apparent energetic cooperation in making this image.

John McCallum
08-18-2006, 03:12 AM
Indeed. In my mind Atomicus remains the greatest example of a script written and executed for a character - if that were possible in a photo. Sorry, don't understand the jumping thing. Is there a cultural aspect to the whimsy he conveyed I wonder?