I’m a big fan of Salvador Dalí so when I first saw Phillipe Halsman work as a kid I was blown away wondering how he was able to achieve a Dali style image in photography, So this is why he is my all time favorite photographer. plus all of his other work like President Nixon jumping. Nixon is the only President I ever met he was walking out of the Waldorf Astoria in New York City when me and my brother were walking by. He stopped to shake my hand then His secret service agents rushed him in a limo..
Born to a Jewish family of Morduch (Max) Halsman, a dentist, and Ita Grintuch, a grammar school principal, in Riga, Halsman studied electrical engineering in Dresden.
n 1941 Halsman met the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and they began to collaborate in the late 1940s. The 1948 work Dali Atomicus explores the idea of suspension, depicting three cats flying, a bucket of thrown water, and Salvador Dalí in mid air. The title of the photograph is a reference to Dalí’s work Leda Atomica which can be seen in the right of the photograph behind the two cats. Halsman reported that it took 28 attempts to be satisfied with the result. Halsman and Dali eventually released a compendium of their collaborations in the 1954 book Dali’s Mustache, which features 36 different views of the artist’s distinctive mustache. Another famous collaboration between the two was In Voluptas Mors, a surrealistic portrait of Dali beside a large skull, in fact a tableau vivant composed of seven nudes. Halsman took three hours to arrange the models according to a sketch by Dali. A version of In Voluptas Mors was used subtly in the poster for the film The Silence of The Lambs, and recreated in a poster for the film The Descent.
His 1961 book Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas, discussed ways for photographers to produce unusual pieces of work, by following three rules: “the rule of the unusual technique”, “the rule of the added unusual feature” and “the rule of the missing feature”.
The Halsman trial was dramatized in the 2007 film Jump!, in which Halsman was portrayed by Ben Silverstone.
Trial began on December 13, 1928 at the Innsbruck state court. Many relatives and friends from the Halsman family’s hometown Riga came to support Philippe, but his position was critical right from the start. He was a stranger, he behaved arrogantly in court and made contradictory statements about how his father could have died, still claiming it an accident, which was merely impossible.
Evidence against him came mostly from witnesses who found his behavior at the crime scene and at Breitlahner quite suspicious and from circumstantial evidence. A stone had been found at the crime scene, with which Morduch Max Halsman had been hit several times, the victim’s blood and hair was found on it. But the crucial point for the defense was that the prosecutor was not able to provide the jury with any motive for the crime. After four days of trial, Philippe Halsman was found guilty and sentenced to ten years of imprisonment by the jury on a 9-3 majority.
The correctness of that judgement was immediately challenged by journalists and law scholars all over Austria and Germany. The Supreme Court of Austria reversed the verdict and sent the case back to Innsbruck. At the second trial on October 19, 1929, Halsman was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to four years of imprisonment.