Philippe Halsman: Jump!

The book: Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book, Publisher: Simon and Schuster, New York, 1959.

“In a jump, the subject, in a sudden burst of energy, overcomes gravity. He cannot simultaneously control his expressions, his facial and limb muscles. The mask falls. The real self becomes visible.” (Philippe Halsman)


Philippe Halsman (American, born Latvian; Magnum photographer; 1906–1979) was a preeminent photographer, portraitist, of cultural icons — from Winston Churchill to Marilyn Monroe, Aldous Huxley to Robert Oppenheimer. Life Magazine featured his photos of 20th century leaders and luminaries on their cover a record 101 times.

Throughout the late 1940s and 1950s, he adopted a habit, a “hobby” as he called it, of asking his stellar subjects at the end of their portrait session to do something silly, irrational really… to jump. And they did! Such was the warmth and persuasive power of Halsman over even the most reserved scientist, politician or monarch. His objective was simple: to capture an unguarded moment of his photographic subject’s carefully crafted and polished public image.

Published in 1959, Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book, shares the memorable and joyful results of his “hobby.”

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