When You Jump, The Real Person Appears

Photographer Philippe Halsman, whose credits include more than 100 Life magazine covers, had an avante-garde approach to finding his subjects' souls. Jumping brings us to life.

SalvadorDali.jpg

You may be familiar with the iconic Philippe Halsman image of Salvador Dali in mid-air with flying cats, disembodied arms, and floating furniture. But did you know that the Latvian-born photographer created an immense portfolio of jumping celebrities and public figures?

At 22, Halsman was sentenced to four years imprisonment after his father died of severe head injuries when the two men were on a hiking trip in the Austrian Alps. The evidence against Halsman was circumstantial, and his imprisonment gained international attention. With the support of family friend Albert Einstein, Halsman was released, but ordered to leave Austria. Halsman relocated to France, fleeing to Marseille when France was invaded during World War II, and eventually making his way to New York.

During his time in France, Halsman had become a renowned portrait photographer, and in 1942, after moving to New York, was hired by Life magazine. Halsman's work for Life was prolific, garnering him a record 101 cover photos.

When photographing public figures, Halsman would often ask his subjects to jump for a photo at the end of the shoot. Most photographers would shy away from such a bold request of their subjects, but Halsman was a master of persuasion.

Halsman called this photographic technique "Jumpology," stating that "When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping and the mask falls so that the real person appears."

For more jumping shenanigans, be sure to check out Halsman's Jump Book.

Halsman and Marilyn Monroe, 1954

MarilynMonroe.jpg

Richard Nixon, 1955

RichardNixon.jpg

Professor J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1958

RobertOppenheimer.jpg

Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, 1951

DMJL.jpg

Jean Seberg and Cat, 1959

JeanSeberg.jpg

Grace Kelly, 1955

GraceKelly.jpg

Audrey Hepburn, 1955

AudreyHepburn-b.jpg

Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 1956

Windsor.jpg

Dick Clark, 1952

DickClark.jpg

J. Fred Muggs, 1953

FredMuggs.jpg



A version of this post originally appeared on Mental Floss, an Atlantic partner site.

All images courtesy of The Philippe Halsman Estate
Presented by

Anna Gay is a photographer based in Athens, Georgia.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Confessions of Moms Around the World

A global look at the hardest and best job ever

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open for 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

More in Health

Just In