-It’s a massive sale of photographs: 316 prints, the vast majority of them vintage.
-It’s a sale devoted to a major photographer, Philippe Halsman (1906-1979), who holds the record for Life Magazine covers (he has 101 to his name), invented ‘jump’ photography (when subjects leap in the air for the camera) and was the hyper-creative friend of Salvador Dali.
-It’s the sale of a seasoned collector, the Frenchman, former dealer and inveterate bargain hunter Serge Aboukrat, who tells me that with the 50 francs he was given for his 16th birthday he purchased a small sculpture by the modern artist Zadkine in Nice.
Serge Aboukrat has brought together an exceptional collection of work by this underrated photographer who spent part of his career in Paris before moving to United States where he became friends with all of Hollywood.
The collector explains in his broken English how he first discovered and then proceeded to follow the Halsmans around the world.
In Halsman’s series of ‘jumps’, it’s obviously Marilyn Monroe in 1958 who really catches the eye. Never has she appeared so happy, regaining her youthful demeanour. It is estimated at 6,000 – 8,000 euros.
It appears that the photographer systematically positioned himself in the sun to accentuate the dynamic effect. The photos reveal their thighs, they laugh. The subjects try to jump higher and higher… Stars, intellectuals or scientists: the process is highly amusing.
The other distinguishing feature of Halsman’s career is his friendship with that well-known surrealist with the thin moustache who knew how to develop a distinctive personality cult, Salvador Dali. Here Halsman deploys his ‘tricks’ like a magician. Serge Aboukrat explains in his Gallic-flavoured English how at the end of the war the two men maintained a shared fascination for the subject of the atom bomb.
The most incredible shot, Dali Monsters and Models, from 1965 is estimated at 2,000 – 3,000 euros. Salvador Dali, Atomicus from 1948 is estimated at 6,000 to 8,000 euros.
The auction will take place à Hôtel Drouot Friday April 1st at 2:00 PM. www.pba-auctions.com
In an archival interview from 1974 Halsman explains why he made his subjects jump: