Jumpology by Philippe Halsman

20 Oct

Philippe Halsman, with an unsurpassed 101 LIFE magazine covers to his credit, had the bold and unconventional idea back in the 1950’s to ask the famous and prominent people he was commissioned to photograph for the likes of LIFE, LOOK and the Saturday Evening Post, once the formal sessions were over, to jump! The results were amazing, as each subject interpreted this bizarre request in their own unique way, often defying their typical public image. We see Richard Nixon as he floats twelve inches above the floor with a peaceful smile on his face, a far cry from the scowl many of us ultimately remember him by. And there is the rather large Jackie Gleason, in a handsome dark suit and his fingers extended wide, defying gravity as he lifts off, and from somewhere off-camera we can’t help but hear “To the moon, Alice.”

Marilyn Monroe, Brigitte Bardot, Salvador Dali, Weegee, Jack Dempsey and even the Duke and Duchess of Windsor agreed to take a leap of faith. In that era of live television along with the popularity of the big glossy magazines, one’s image was not nearly as protected and shaped by handlers as it is today. There was a feeling of innocence, a desire for spontaneity, and Halsman, with his playful and charming personality, knew he had to get almost everyone to oblige his demand: JUMP!

Philippe Halsman was born in Latvia in 1906, and began his photographic career in Paris in the early 1930’s. He emigrated to New York in the fall of 1940, as Paris fell to the Nazis. He soon became one of the most prominent photographers in America., his photographs published widely and regularly. He died in 1979. His photographs have been collected and exhibited by museums around the world. (via)

Marilyn Monroe and Philippe Halsman, 1954

The Cat Girl, Lilly Christine, 1953

Duke & Dutchess of Windsor, 1956

Grace Kelly, 1959

Richard Nixon, 1955

Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham, 1947

Dick Clark, 1952

Dianna Dorrs, 1956

Eva Marie Saint, 1954

Jean Seberg with Cat, 1959

Professor J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1958

Dali with three girls, 1949

Weegee, 1961

Edward Steichen, 1955

Mike Wallace, 1957

J Fred Muggs, 1953

Marilyn Monroe, 1959

Daytona Beach, 1947

Jerome Robbins with Students, 1959

Lena Horne, 1954

Sophia Loren, 1959

Tamara Toumanova, 1953

Murray Kempton, 1956

Audrey Hepburn, 1955

Adam Clayton Powell, 1959

Aldous Huxley, 1958

Brigitte Bardot, 1951

Brigette Bardot (contact sheet), 1951

Benny Goodman, 1957

Five Choreographers, 1951

Ballet on Beach, 1948

Danny Kaye, 1954

Donald O’Connor, 1952

David Seymour ‘Chim’ with Jane and Irene Halsman, 1957

Ed Sullivan, 1955

Edward Villela, 1961

Gisele MacKenzie, 1956

Harold Lloyd, 1950

Jackie Gleason, 1955

Jack Dempsey, 1954

Janet Leigh, 1951

Jayne Mansfield, 1953

2 Responses to “Jumpology by Philippe Halsman”

  1. Nicholas Brewer October 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm #

    A great selection of images that reveal a great deal about the photographer and the subjects. Thanks for putting them together.

  2. Anonymous October 21, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    the chimp J Fred Muggs is still alive today 🙂

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