From the 1940s through the 1970s, Philippe Halsman‘s sparkling portraits of celebrities, intellectuals, and politicians appeared on the covers and pages of the big picture magazines, including Look, Esquire, Paris Match, and especially Life.
In 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.
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”.