Dali Atomicus

Dalí Atomicus was a photograph by Phillipe Halsman that changed the face of portrait photography. Hung on the concept of a physicist’s (then) recent announcement that matter itself hangs in a constant state of suspension and in homage to Dalí’s surrealist masterpiece “Leda Atomica” (unfinished in the photo, behind the cats), it took six hours, 28 jumps, and a roomful of assistants throwing angry cats and buckets of water into the air to get the perfect exposure.

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Phillipe Halsman met the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in New York City and they began to collaborate in the late 1940s. Famous for his celebrity “jump” portraits, Halsman’s work appeared on at least seven Life magazine covers and helped usher in a new era of portrait photography.