The Kunsthal gallery, Rotterdam is currently hosting this exhibition of works by legendary photographer Philippe Halsman during its European schedule.
With the Kunsthal gallery being in the main art district of Rotterdam, the works of Halsman are very much at home amongst the modernist architecture and Surrealism of this great city. Rotterdam is becoming a major capital of the contemporary art market and for contemporary art lovers.
Halsman is one of the most recognisable photographers of the 20th century. Yet his name may not be too familiar, while his works certainly are. Surrealism and Celebrity could be one way to title this exhibition, as Halsman's has photographed some of our most recognised faces of the 20th century, from Marilyn Monroe, Albert Einstein, Alfred Hitchcock, Winston Churchill and other cultural pioneers of the time.
Along with some bizarre collaborations with Salvador Dalí, these many works explore his fascination with the surreal and the surrealist movement. You also capture Halsman's obsession with image manipulation and set design, and just bloody mindedness to get the idea recorded on to film. All of this was a lifetime before the photoshop we all know so well.
Being able to see through these contact prints, especially with the more experimental ideas, will prove to be fascinating to any creative out there.
As well as developing the visual language of photography during these early years; building his own cameras twice is one example. This exhibition encapsulates the experimentation of what was this new medium called photography, with his rebellious and curious nature for capturing the human form and emotions, he was pushing boundaries creatively.
Austrian born in1906 and working during the golden age of film, as well as during the turbulent years of the 1st and 2nd world wars. Halsman’s relocation to America offered him the commercial back drop for his photography to go global. With a wealth of information, not only from himself, but also by his subjects, we can only speculate the conversations held.
With an almost mischievous approach to working with his subjects psychologically, he was well know for generating a power over his sitters, making them feel extremely comfortable and controlled while working with him.
With over 300 photographs exhibited, the range of subjects and time periods is fascinating. Walking around the many original prints and montages gives an almost first hand view of Halman’s working method and a glimpse into his creative mind.
With the opportunity to look over contact prints is again a rare opportunity to see the raw production of a shot to the final selected print.
For more, visit www.kunsthal.nl
Philippe Halsman: Astonish Me!, 27 February – 12 June, Kunsthal Rotterdam, Westzeedijk 341, 3015 AA Rotterdam, Netherlands.
Article: Christopher George
Reporting on culture travel, creative events and social issues.
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