Philippe Halsman 1906 – 1979
Archive contact: Irene Halsman (email@example.com)
Philippe Halsman (b. May 2, 1906 – d. June 25, 1979) was born in Riga, Latvia. He became one of the great portrait photographers of our time. He started by studying engineering in Germany, but began his photographic career in Paris, where he designed his own 4 x 5 twin lens reflex camera.
Part of the great exodus of artists and intellectuals who fled the Nazis, Halsman arrived in the United States with his young family in 1940, having obtained an emergency visa through the intervention of Albert Einstein.
Halsman’s prolific career in America over the next 30 years included reportage and covers for every major American magazine. He had more Life magazine covers (101) to his credit than any other photographer, and three of his well-loved portraits – of Albert Einstein, Adlai Stevenson, and John Steinbeck – were used on United States Postage Stamps.
His colleagues elected him as the first president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers (ASMP) in 1944, and in 1958, he was chosen as one of the world’s Ten Greatest Photographers in an international poll. He was the recipient of the ASMP Life Achievement in Photography Award in 1975. Beginning in 1986, the ASMP instituted an annual Philippe Halsman Award for Photojournalism.
His work is represented in the permanent collections of numerous museums in the United States and abroad. Among his many one-man exhibitions was a retrospective that began at the International Center of Photography in New York in 1979 and continued to tour the United States until 1988.
He was on the faculty of the Famous Photographers School, and from 1970-1979, he taught a seminar on Psychological Portraiture at the New School in New York City.
Halsman Portraits, published in 1983, is a survey of his contribution to the art of portraiture. Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book, is a collection of portraits of famous people jumping, first published in 1959 and reissued in 1986. Both books were published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
With the publication of Halsman, a Retrospective, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery mounted a huge exhibition which toured the United States in 1998 and also went to the Tate Gallery in London and the Hotel de Sully in Paris.