The era of Modern movement or modernization, which in art is called modernism, extended between 1920 and 1970. Modernism is eminently evident in the world of photography as in every other field of human activity. This movement was the product of dramatic changes in the domains of politics, society, economics and technology around the world and has some characteristics or paradoxes:- The first paradox is the dependence or reliance on tradition. As a result ,modern art forms habitually idolize progress towards the future while being strongly grounded in traditions.
For example, although the modernists were critical about the pictorial style, its principles are quite evident in their works, particularly in landscape and still life. In this respect, Halsman was a pioneer. Although he specialized in portrait photography and photojournalism, he constantly strived to be innovative by using experimental and unorthodox methods of photography. He found a kindred spirit in Dali and went to produce “Dali’s Mustache” – where we find a brilliant synergy of Halsman’s inventiveness and skill and that of Dali’s cynical and wry humour.
The seemingly absurd but witty and distinctly profound photographic works of Halsman is one of his lasting contributions in the modern movement. (Morris, 2002) The 20th century photography, as a fine art and as a documentary, struggled and finally succeeded in getting accepted as an art form and made a place for itself in the art galleries. (Pollack, 2002) In the United States, photographers like Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen, John Szarkowski, F. Holland Day, and Edward Weston were pioneers in acquiring this prestige for photography.
Halsman’s contribution to this movement remains unquestioned because of the use of his photographic technique, experimentation, choice of subject and their crafty presentation. Halsman moved away from pictorialism into the domain of sharp “straight photography”. He experimented with myriad styles and newer concepts through psychological portrayal and jumpology, which marked a sure-footed and far-reaching import in the realm of modernist movement. (Halsman, 1986)
Bibliography: ABC-CIS; 1976; Art bibliographies Modern; ABC-Clio Information Services, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts; Clio Press
Boni, Albert; 1962; Photographic Literature: An International Bibliographic Guide to General and Specialized Literature on Photographic Processes, Techniques, Theory, Chemistry, Physics, Apparatus, Materials & Applications, Industry, History, Biography, Aesthetics; Morgan & Morgan Halsman, Philippe; 1986; Philippe Halsman’s Jump Book; Abrams, Halsman, Yvonne & Philippe Halsman; 1989; Halsman at Work: Philippe Halsman and Yvonne Halsman; Abrams Jones, Jonathan; Saturday June 9, 2001; Alfred Hitchcock, Philippe Halsman; The Guardian
Merryman, John Henry & Albert Edward Elsen; 2002; Law, Ethics, and the Visual Arts; Kluwer Law International Morris, John G. & William H. McNeill; 2002; Get the Picture: A Personal History of Photojournalism; University of Chicago Press Pollack, Martin; 2002; Fall Philipp Halsmann, 2002, Zsolnay PSGB; 1963; The Photographic Journal: Including the Transactions of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain; Photographic Society of Great Britain, Photographic Society of London; The Society T-L Books; 1977; Life Library of Photography: Great Photographers; Alexandria VA: Time-Life Books