Photographs by Philippe Halsman; edited by Oliver Halsman Rosenberg.
Distributed Art Publishers, 2008. 144 pp., 111 tritone illustrations., 10½x14".
Unknown Halsman reveals an overlooked, playful and bizarre side of Philippe Halsman,
one of the most innovative photographers of the twentieth century. Most previous
publications on Halsman feature his iconic portraiture, which appeared on the cover of
Life and other top American magazines from the 40s through the 70s. He is also
remembered for his groundbreaking Surrealist photo collaborations with Salvador Dali.
Edited by his grandson Oliver Halsman Rosenberg (who has spent the past two years
organizing the archive and discovering the depth of the celebrated photographer's
unpublished oeuvre), most of the images in this distinctive volume which include
private and experimental photographs, decontextualized advertisements, outtakes
from famous sittings, contact sheets and family snapshots, have never been seen as
a body of work in their own right. One of Philippe Halsman's many aphorisms, 'The
way a photographer sees is an extension of his character' is apt; these photographs
not only capture his character, they bring to life the essence of his era.
Oliver Halsman Rosenberg, also an artist, has lent his graphic sense to this publication,
creating a uniquely designed and sequenced monograph that is both colorful
and spirited. Intermingled with 100 fine reproductions of Halsman's photographs
are numerous quotes by the photographer as well as luminaries like Salvador Dali,
Jean Cocteau, Martha Graham and Alfred Hitchcock. All quotes are hand illustrated
by Oliver Halsman Rosenberg in a unique brush font that is inspired by Japanese
calligraphy and hand-made zines. Contributing to the well-considered and intimate
feel of this publication are the use of yellow throughout the book, inspired by a wall
in Halsman's former photo studio; the blue floral endpapers, which were taken from
the fabric of Halsman's couch; and the use of a typewriter font that evokes the correspondence
found during the archiving process. Oliver Halsman Rosenberg also
contributes an illustrated essay. A major European multi-venue retrospective is in
the works for 2009-2010.