Philippe Halsman, Astonish Me!

Musée de l'Elysée
Jan 25, 2014 6:02AM

On view from January 29 through May 11, 2014 at the Musée de l'Elysée.

In 1921, Philippe Halsman found his father’s old camera, and spoke of a “miracle” when he developed his first glass plates in the family’s bathroom sink. He was 15 years old, and this was the first encounter with photography of someone who was to become one of the leading photographers of the 20th century.

The exhibition, produced by the Musée de l'Elyée in collaboration with the Philippe Halsman Archive, showcases the American photographer's entire career for the first time, from his beginnings in Paris in the 1930s to the tremendous success of his New York studio between 1940 and 1970.

Halsman was able to go to Paris thanks to the support of French minister Paul Painlevé—whose son Jean, a scientific filmmaker, gave him one of the best cameras of the time upon his arrival. He remained in Paris for ten years, until 1940. Over that period, he collaborated with the magazines VogueVu and Voilà and created portraits of numerous celebrities like Marc ChagallLe Corbusier and André Malraux. He exhibited his work several times at the avant-garde Pléiade gallery, alongside photographers like Laure Albin Guillot, whose work was exhibited at Musée de l'Elysée in 2013.

Fleeing Nazism, he left Paris in 1940 and moved to New York. There, he worked for many American magazines including Life, which brought him into contact with the century's top celebrities—Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Duke Ellington, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Richard Nixon, Albert Einstein to name only a few. Halsman shot 101 covers for Life magazine.

Far from restricting himself to photographing celebrities, throughout his whole life Halsman never stopped experimenting and pushing the limits of his medium. He collaborated with Salvador Dalí for over thirty years and invented 'jumpology', which consisted in photographing personalities in the middle of jumping, offering a more natural, spontaneous portrait of his subjects.

This retrospective exhibition presents no less than 300 exclusive images and original documents, shedding new light on the work of an exceptional, atypical photographer.

This exhibition is produced by the Musée de l'Elysée, in collaboration with the Philippe Halsman Archive. After Lausanne, it will be presented at the Jeu de Paume in Paris (October 13, 2015 - February 14, 2016) and at the Kunsthal Rotterdam (February 24 - June 5, 2016). The exhibition will then travel to venues in Barcelona Madrid.

CuratorsSam Stourdzé, Director, Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne Anne Lacoste, Curator, Musée de l'Elysée, Lausanne

Musée de l'Elysée