Philippe Halsman: Jump


Capturing an image of someone jumping is really harder than it seems. You are most likely to have made several attempts with the ‘jumpee’ losing energy and enthusiasm with each successive take. But Philippe Halsman seems to have mastered the art especially when you begin to ask every famous personality you meet to pose for a jump shot. Since in the very act of jumping, the jumpee’s attention is mostly directed to the act of jumping, the mask they usually carry tends to fall away. The end result is a brilliant show of limbs and smiles.

Halsman counted Albert Einstein among his close friends and even took the famous Einstein portrait that featured on the cover of TIME in 1999. He worked with Salvador Dali and Alfred Hitchcock and was even lucky enough to have Marilyn Monroe pose for him. His adult life began quite dramatically when at 22 he was accused of murdering his father while they were out on a hike. Later released from prison he soon had to escape Europe to get away from the war. Moving to the US, he made a name for himself as an expert portrait photographer and had his images feature in many a Life and Vogue spread.

We’re inspired by the poise in his jumps and by the fact that though essentially the same action, no two images are alike.

Actress Eva Marie Saint. 1954


American physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, 1958


American Federal Appeals Judge Learned Hand, 1957


Grace Kelly and Philippe Halsman


Marilyn Monroe and Phillipe Halsman, 1959


American pianist Liberace, 1954


Actress Kim Novak


Audrey Hepburn, 1955


Sophia Loren, 1955


Spanish painter Salvador Dali,”Dali Atomicus.” 1948


The American Vice President Richard Nixon, 1959


The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, 1958


American actors Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, 1951


Phillipe Halsman


If you like Halsman’s jumps, check out his 1959 Jump Book that features 178 photographs of jumping celebrities. There’s also a movie Jump that’s based on the murder mystery that surrounds his father’s death.


Advanced Style


Yesterday we watched the inspiring Advanced Style, a film that follows some of the women featured by blogger Ari Seth Cohen on his eponymous blog. These grand dames of style are anything over fifty years old, and all take the greatest pains and delight in dressing up and being beautiful in their own way.

We came away with big smiles on our faces, and the realisation that no matter how old we are, we never get tired of wanting to be ever beautiful and dressed up.


There are a multitude of inspiring quotes in the film, a world of advice and examples to learn from, but we won’t paraphrase because they are best delivered by the people who live them. But we will share with you some of our favourite images from the blog. They are an inspiration to all ages and genders.

Advanced Style is also a book, a film, and you can also follow Ari on Twitter and Facebook.

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz: A Portrait of Domestic Violence


What do you mean by ‘a portrait of domestic violence?’
Why would you make a portrait of it?
Why are you not intervening?
Why are you not making it stop?

It’s possible that photographer Sara Naomi Lewkowicz faced a barrage of criticism for not intervening while taking the pictures that make up her 2012 series ‘Shane and Maggie’. What initially started out as a project following felons who have been released from prison and are readjusting to life outside (Shane in this case), Lewkowicz’s reportage took a different turn when one night Shane and his girlfriend Maggie got into a serious physical fight that ended in Shane getting arrested.

“Shane was like a fast car. When you’re driving it, you think ‘I might get pulled over and get a ticket.’ You never think that you’re going to crash.” 

Maggie and Shane’s courtship was brief but intense. Shane called her everyday from prison, and upon his release, they began to date.


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Maggie had two children, Memphis, two, and Kayden, four. She had separated from their father several months prior to beginning her relationship with Shane.


One month into their courtship, Shane had Maggie’s name tattooed on his neck in large black letters.


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The stress of Shane’s unemployment and raising two young children on very little money often took its toll on Maggie and Shane’s relationship. As the newness of their relationship wore off, they began to argue more frequently, usually about money or Maggie’s focusing most of her energy on the children rather than her relationship. “Why can’t I be the most important one, for once?” Shane asked.


Within a few months of their relationship, Shane moved Maggie and her children to a trailer park in Somerset, Ohio. The location was farther away than Maggie had ever been from her family and friends before, and she said her feelings of isolation only increased over time.


Kayden lifted a chair and a toy truck over his head to show how strong he was.


Maggie and Shane took a rare night out alone together, singing karaoke at a local bar. 


After a night out at a local bar, Maggie left after becoming jealous of when another woman flirted with Shane. Upon arriving home, Shane flew into a rage, angry that Maggie had “abandoned him” at the bar and then drove home with his friend, whose house they were staying at for the week. Maggie told him to get out of the house, that he was too angry and that he would wake the children.


Rather than subsiding, Shane’s anger began to grow, and he screamed that Maggie had betrayed him, at one point accusing his friend (not pictured) of trying to pursue her sexually.


As the fight continued to rage, Shane told Maggie that she could choose between getting beaten in the kitchen, or going with him to the basement so they could talk privately.


As Shane and Maggie continued to fight, Memphis ran into the room and refused to leave Maggie’s side. She witnessed the majority of the assault on her mother. As the two fought, Memphis began to scream and stomp her feet.


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Around half past midnight, the police arrived after receiving a call from a resident in the house (pictured at right). Maggie cried and smoked a cigarette as an officer from the Lancaster Police Department tried to keep her separated from Shane and coax out the truth about the assault.


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Shane hugged Memphis goodbye before being arrested. He insisted he wasn’t a bad person, that Maggie had been trying to leave the house and drive drunk with the children in the car.


The series then goes on to show how Maggie picks up the pieces of her life and moves back in with the husband she has separated from who is also the father of Kayden and Memphis.

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Maggie tried to pull herself together as she prepared to drive with her children to her best friend’s house for the night.


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An officer from the Lancaster Police Department photographed the bruises on Maggie’s neck from where Shane had choked her. “You know, he’s not going to stop,” the officer told Maggie as she wept. “They never stop. They usually stop when they kill you.”


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Kayden, who had slept through the assault, was disoriented and began to cry when he awoke. Memphis remained calm and seemed mostly concerned with comforting her mother. “Don’t cry, mommy, I love you,” she said over and over.


As Lewkowicz rationalises,’While this story is, in part, about domestic violence, it is not a reportage on a domestic dispute—it is not a news event. It seeks to take a deeper, unflinching look into the circumstances that transform a relationship into a crucible, and what happens before, during, immediately proceeding and long after an episode of violence takes place. With this story, it is my goal to examine the effects of this type of violence on the couple, the absued, the abuser, and the children who serve as witnesses to the abuse.’

The day following the attack, Maggie had to grapple with what would come next for her and her children. She had no source of income, no childcare, and was afraid to return to the home she and Shane shared to retrieve her possessions. She expressed intense fear that Shane would be let out on bail and come after her, and called the jail several times to make sure he hadn’t been released.


In the days following the attack, Maggie had time to reflect on what had occurred and decided to make an official statement to the police. She said she had resumed communications with her estranged husband and the father of her children, and was considering moving with her children to Alaska, where he is stationed with the Army.


Maggie and Memphis, March 3, 2013. More than three months since the assault, Maggie has moved her family to Alaska to try to repair her marriage and give the children a chance to be closer to their father. Maggie and her husband met at 14. She said they’d been on and off since eighth grade, yet they always seem to find their way back to one another.


This series is one of the most hard hitting series we’ve shared on this site. And though it made us sad and uncomfortable to be even in the presence of these images (the photographs are currently on display at Somerset House as part of the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards), there is something in knowing that it is photographs like these that take the conversation forward, that reduce the discomfort and example that Maggie is, that make us more amenable to talking and looking at a problem. This is not the pretty esoteric art that we’re usually looking at, but a reality that we need to face.

Sara Naomi Lewkowicz has been awarded the L’Iris d’Or/Sony World Photography Awards Photographer of the Year for this series, winning the award from among 140,000 photographers from 166 countries.

United Visual Artists: Momentum


The sound of eerie.
a slice of light cutting through the fog,
then black again.

The shadow of the person standing somewhere in front of you,
the hollow shuffle of the group behind,
then lost again to the black that fills the Curve.

Welcome to Momentum, one of the latest works by the acclaimed United Visual Artists at the Barbican’s The Curve gallery. Combining light, sound and the movement of the visitors, this is a work like we’ve never experienced before. Being thrust into a darkness that alternates between pitch black and smoky shadows, depending on where you stand, is not something we’re used to. And the smoke is not exactly smoke we think, just the way the light feels….
Where’s Health & Safety when you need it?

Rest assured the maximum damage this work can cause you is knocking into the wall. Or bumping into the person in front/behind you.
But we guarantee that if you do take the first step into the darkened abyss that Momentum has transformed the Curve into, you won’t come away disappointed. And with many images in your head that no camera can capture, or no two people can witness.


United Visual Artists is a collective of London based ‘visual orators’ as they call themselves. With over ten years of work behind them including an intervention at Sou Fujimoto’s summer pavilion at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2013, Volume at the Victoria & Albert Museum garden in 2006, and numerous projects for the band Massive Attack alongside re-designing the main stage for Coachella in 2011, we’re always in awe of their projects and the way they make us feel and see ourselves in space.

United Visual Artists: Momentum
Up to 1 June 2014


Jurgen Schadeberg’s London


We couldn’t take our eyes off this photograph taken by Jurgen Schadeberg of his friend the acrobat Hans Prignitz balancing over the city of Hamburg.
So much so that we had to dig deeper and do a feature on him.

Hans Prignitz’s handstand on the St. Michaelis Church, Hamburg, 1948


Schadeberg was born in Berlin in 1931 but moved to South Africa to start afresh and leave the war behind him in 1950. But in his own words, this move was like out of the frying pan and into the fire given the tetchy situation in South Africa when he arrived.

After living there for close to fourteen years and photographing everything from politics (his series of images on Nelson Mandela and ANC are outstanding) to jazz, he returned to Europe in 1964 where he continued to work and teach.

Schadeberg spent quite a bit of time in Britain and here are some of the images he took of our beloved London. The grittiness of the city might not be the same as it was in the 60’s and the 70’s, but looks like we haven’t lost our impish charm yet.

A washing line in Maida Vale, London, 1978


Waitress Break, London City Hall, 1979


A young audience at a concert in Regent’s Park, London, 1976


Thames Walk


A boy jumps down the street under the Westway in Edgware Road, London, 1972


Lovers in a London Pub, 1982


Three boys


Young smokers visit a flea market in the East End of London, 1978


Hackney Corner, 1979


London Playground, 1968


A miscellaneous stall in Hackney Market, London, 1979


A shoemaker at work in his Soho shop, 1970


A Punch and Judy man delights a group of children in London, 1977


Two boys build a bonfire on a disused section of a railway line at London Docks, 1974

William Forsythe: Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time


William Forsythe the renowned choreographer and artist has always had a fascination for the choreographic object. He believes that choreography, though maddeningly unmanageable, elusive and agile both as a word and process, is a channel for the desire to dance. And here’s what happens in his acclaimed piece Nowhere and Everywhere at the Same Time, when it is external objects and not solely the presence of music, that compel us to dance.


Forsythe borrowed this title from a phrase used by blind resistance fighter Jacques Lusseyran, who when speaking about his inner sense of vision described it as being like a boundless canvas or screen that existed ‘nowhere and everywhere at the same time.’ It is this inner vision that Forsythe calls us to use when moving through this installation, that is currently on view at the Circus Street Market as part of the Brighton Festival till 25 May 2014.

This work consists of more than 400 moving pendulums that hang from automated grids, and sweep in synchronised arcs as visitors walk across the space. Originally created for a solo dancer as the video above depicts, this second edition is more an examination of how a free, unchoreographed, unpredictable audience reacts to the work, while making their own attempts to navigate the space and avoid these choreographed objects.

Versions of this work have also been installed in an abandoned building on New York’s historic High Line, the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern and the Arsenale of the Venice Biennale as seen below.

Museums and Collecting


Recently we’ve been taking a closer look at why we go to museums – do we visit them solely to absorb the sense of grandeur, nationalism and conquest they proffer? Or is it because they genuinely give us the opportunity to learn more about a time gone by, a different kind of people, and a way of life? Or further still, from living in London, are some of the museums preferred for an aesthetically appealing foyer, or the delicate chandeliered lights and buttered scones in their cafes, or even the massive gift shop that stocks interesting books we’d like to own?

Either which way we can’t help but agree with the author Orhan Pahmuk, who firmly believes that museums are more effective when they are decluttered, focused, and telling the stories of individuals rather than of nations.

Pamuk roots like he did in this article, for museums made out of the homes and studio’s of creative people, that towards the final years of their lives have been opened up to the public.
He hails the hidden away spaces that are dedicated to personal stories and the passage of time, as conveyed through objects.

We’ve talked about Pamuk’s Manifesto for Museums in the past, and now as we turn the last pages of his Museum of Innocence and the accompanying Innocence of Objects, we delve into his hypothesis on collectors and collections that he arrived at after visits to countless museums, both the glorified and the forgotten.

From Museum of Innocence, Chapter 82, Collectors (as narrated by the protagonist Kemal)

‘This is what I observed while travelling the world, and wandering through Istanbul. There are two types of collectors:

  1. The Proud Ones, those pleased to show their collections to the world (they predominate in the West).
  2. The Bashful Ones, who hide away all they have accumulated (an unmodern disposition).

The Proud regard a museum as a natural ultimate destination for their collections. They maintain that whatever a collection’s original purpose, it is, in the end, an enterprise intended for proud display in a museum. This view was common in the official histories of small, private American museums: For example, the brochure for the Museum of Beverage Containers and Advertising describes how the collector Tom picked up his first soda can on the way home from school. Then he picked up another, and a third, keeping what he found until after a time his ambition was to “collect them all” and exhibit them in a museum.

But the Bashful collect purely for the sake of collection. Like the Proud, they begin in pursuit of an answer, a consolation, even a palliative for a pain, a resolution of difficulty, or simply out of a dark compulsion. But living in societies where collecting is not a reputable act that contributes to learning or knowledge, the Bashful regard their compulsion as an embarrassment that must be hidden. Because in the lands of the Bashful, collections point not to a bit of useful information but rather to a wound the bashful collector bears.’

Maybe we could learn a lot more about humanity from the collections of the Bashful than those of the Proud. But does that then depend on who tells the story better? Or who has greater resources and more visibility?

As we read through Museum of Innocence, we were also struck by how Pamuk’s protagonist Kemal goes on to describe how it was the museum guards who taught him about the central place of pride in a museum. Kemal elaborates saying, “the guards’ job is not, as is commonly thought, to hush noisy visitors, protect the objects on display, and issue warnings to kissing couples and people chewing gum; their job is to make visitors feel that they are in a place of worship that, like a mosque, should awaken in them feelings of humility, respect and reverence.”

And we cannot agree more with this. In all our years of going to museums and galleries both popular and obscure, for all the guards and gallery assistants who have made our visits more interesting with anecdotes far beyond any guide book or Wikipedia entry, to even those who have brusquely stopped us from taking photographs or getting too close to a painting, it is true that our experience of great works of art is made all the more intense and memorable under their watchful eyes.