Astonish me! A retrospective of Philippe Halsman’s work at the Musée de L’Elysée

Best known for… well… pretty much everything he has ever done, photographer Philippe Halsman had an outstanding career. For over 40 years, in Paris during the 1930s and New York from 1940 on, he photographed everyone who was anyone, in a broad range of activities, such as portraits, fashion, advertising, commissions and personal projects.


The exhibition “Astonish me!” (“Etonnez-moi!” in french), currently showing at the Musée de l’Elysée here in Lausanne, is the first study of his entire body of work and presents over 300 pieces including contact sheets, Halsman’s own notes, original photomontages and even Holiday cards. Lucky me! It’s not everyday you get to see the “bad” pictures of Marilyn Monroe, the old school ways of photoshopping or how mad it was the reality of throwing cats at Salvador Dali.

Another delightful of Halsman’s projects is the series entitled Jumpology, where he asked all the celebrities he photographed over the years to ‘jump up and down in order to reveal their true nature’.

In 1941, Halsman met his ‘accomplice’ Salvador Dali, with whom he worked in collaboration for 37 years and, together, they produced an incredible amount of artwork. As if the entire exhibition wasn’t enough to put a giant smile on everyone’s faces, as a final treat on the last floor, a video made by Salvador Dali and Halsman gives a little insight into the world of these amazing artists. I am going back tomorrow!

“In my serious work I am striving for the essence of things and for goals which are possibly unobtainable. On the other hand, everything humorous has great attraction for me, and a childish streak leads me into all kinds of frivolous endeavor.”

Philippe Halsman

Philippe Halsman, Astonish me!

29.01.2014 – 11.05.2014

Musée de l’Elysée

18, avenue de l’Elysée
1014 Lausanne – Switzerland
Tél. ++41 21 316 99 11
Fax ++41 21 316 99 12

All images from Philippe Halsman’s Archive

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