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Outstanding Photos: Dali Atomicus March 8, 2009

Posted by t-maker in History, Miscellaneous, Outstanding Photos, Photos.
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In 1941 the photographer Philippe Halsman met the surrealist artist Salvador Dali and they began to collaborate in the late 1940s. The 1948 work Dali Atomicus explores the idea of suspension, depicting three cats flying, a bucket of thrown water, and Salvador Dali in mid air. The title of the photograph is a reference to Dali’s work Leda Atomica which can be seen in the right of the photograph behind the two cats.

Dali Atomicus

Halsman set up his New York studio and using the 4 x 5 format, twin-lens reflex camera that he had designed in 1947 (Bello 206), he prepared to capture one of his most memorable photographs. He suspended an easel, two paintings by Dali (one of which was “Leda Atomica”), and a stepping stool; had his wife, Yvonne, hold a chair in the air (Jeffrey 192); on the count of three, his assistants threw three cats and a bucket of water into the air; and on the count of four, Dali jumped and Halsman snapped the picture. While his assistants mopped the floor and consoled the cats, Halsman went to the darkroom, developed the film, and reemerged to do it again. “Six hours and twenty-eight throws later, the result satisfied my striving for perfection,” wrote Halsman in his book Halsman on the Creation of Photographic Ideas. “My assistants and I were wet, dirty, and near complete exhaustion—only the cats still looked like new.” (From “Philippe Halsman: Dali Atomicus” by Brandon Luhring)


1. Brandon Luhring. Philippe Halsman: Dali Atomicus

2. “Dali Atomicus” by Philippe Halsman

3. Salvador Dali A (Dali Atomicus)

4. “Dali Atomicus” by Philippe Halsman – 1948

2. Dali Atomicus