Philippe Halsman: Dali Atomicus, portrait of Salvador Dali

  • Sharebar
Dali Atomicus (1948), a collaborative photographic work by Salvador Dali and Philippe Halsman

Dali Atomicus (1948): Portrait photograph of Salvador Dali (1904-1989), including objects, flying cats and water caught in surreal motion, gelatin silver photographic print by American photographer Philippe Halsman (digital file from the original photograph). Source: U.S. Library of Congress, Washington, DC, USA

After the American photographer Philippe Halsman met the prominent Spanish Catalan surrealist painter Salvador Dalí in New York City in 1941, the duo began to collaborate in many creative projects from the late 1940s. Their 1948 work titled ‘Dali Atomicus’ depicts three flying cats, a thrown water in the air, a footstool, an easel, other objects and Salvador Dalí, all giving the illusion of being suspended in the midair.

The title of the photograph, Dali Atomicus, is influenced by Dali’s painting titled ‘Leda Atomica’, based on the mythological theme ‘Leda and the Swan’, which is shown, as if suspended, to the right of the photograph, just behind the two cats and the thrown (suspended) water.

Halsman, reportedly, made 28 attempts to photograph the picture so that he was satisfied with the final result. This is an un-retouched version of the photo that was published in LIFE magazine. The props such as suspending wires, the hand of the assistant holding the chair, the prop holding up the footstool, etc. are not removed and can still be seen in the photo.

About Krishna