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Description: Jet Age Aesthetic: The Glamour of Media in Motion
~I am overloaded. . . . There is one relief now and that is because I sit in an aeroplane flying direction west. How wonderful to seat still wyhle [sic] one is speeding around the earth. But if we would go the same speed in which the earth moves, maybe it is only an illusion that we fly, maybe we just stand still and the earth moves beyond us. But...
PublisherYale University Press
Related print edition pages: pp.139-181
Chapter 4. Ernst Haas and the Blurring of Color in Motion
I am overloaded. . . . There is one relief now and that is because I sit in an aeroplane flying direction west. How wonderful to seat still wyhle [sic] one is speeding around the earth. But if we would go the same speed in which the earth moves, maybe it is only an illusion that we fly, maybe we just stand still and the earth moves beyond us. But as everything is more or less an illusion, I don’t care if we move or are being moved. I enjoy this activity in every direction even if it is only in a very material way of moving my body from one place to the other.
—Letter from Ernst Haas to Robert Capa, 1954
Daniel Boorstin had fretted about the effects of the jet, but the photographer Ernst Haas had a very different take on the effects of air travel. Although Haas also noted that flying created a lack of clarity regarding reality and illusion, he was not suspicious like Boorstin. Haas even later reflected on the fact that he considered airplanes ideal work spaces: “I feel good in airplanes. I make layouts in airplanes,” explaining that he never slept on them nor did he find them boring or constraining environments.1“In and Out of Focus,” December 15, 1978, CAC 79:055. Casey Allen Collection, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. Haas, like many photographers, liked to fly.
While magazine photographers had been part of the mobility of the modern world, as the last chapter suggested, the glamour associated with their peripatetic lives gave them and their work increased significance during the jet age. By 1954, even before the improvements in the quality of flight wrought by the jet, Haas had spent time in the air that provoked his reflection above on speed, pace, the perception of motion, and whether the experience of motion during flight was simply an illusion. Why would anyone who had journeyed “materially” for such long distances, as he noted, ponder such immaterial questions about human perception? The answers do not seem obvious.
Haas had been listed among the ten greatest photographers in Popular Photography’s survey of two hundred fifty photo professionals and was featured in the May 1958 issue of the magazine. Most of the group made their living as magazine photographers. They included luminaries such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Ansel Adams, Philippe Halsman, Irving Penn, and Bert Stern. The two youngest and thus perhaps most of their moment were Haas, who was thirty-six, and Richard Avedon, thirty-four. These two shared other traits as well: they worked in magazines, films, and advertising; made photobooks; and also shot photos on film sets and consulted on feature films. Avedon became one of the wealthiest and most well known of the ten on the list, and he worked well into his eighties. Haas became president of the Magnum photo agency, had a one-man show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1962, and published a 1971 photobook, The Creation, which became one of the best-selling such books of its time. He died in 1986 at the age of sixty-five. In fact, he is the man who was the best known among those on the 1958 list in his own day and whose work is now the least well known today.
One could reevaluate and renarrate and even compare artistic careers and the merits of each photographer’s contributions, as well as their artistic reputations and legacies. This would surely reveal the blind spots in what has been until now a limited art-historical perspective on the history of photography—one that has not examined the contemporary impact of the photographers. Here we return Avedon and Haas to the period context in which they became celebrated. By returning to the history of magazine photography during the jet age in order to consider the emergence of color in photographic newsmagazines, we will be unable to avoid the centrality of Haas above all, as well as of Avedon, Eliot Elisofon, Jean-Philippe Charbonnier, and others who were enmeshed in the transition to color photography as part of the glamour of media in motion.
Haas participated in, contributed to, and reflected on these changes in his time. The changes were as much about the experience and perception of new kinds of motion as they were about material developments in photographic and print culture and transport technology. In the transition to color photography, Haas drew readers’ attention to the viewer’s experience of time itself in a world that seemed recently set in constant motion. He exemplifies what became known as the New Journalism of the 1960s, and his work suggests that the movement was visual before it was verbal. That movement is usually attributed to such writers as Tom Wolfe and Gay Talese, who combined reporting with subjective interior literary devices. Scholars such as Fred Ritchin have identified those photojournalists who came after the 1960s, such as Raymond Depardon, as having been influenced by the New Journalism, and art photographers, such as Martha Rosler and Allan Sekula, as having blurred the borders between art and documentary photography in an art photography corollary to the New Journalism. By looking at Haas’ magazine photography we can see the key role that such images played in contributing to the rise of the New Journalism in the first place.2Fred Ritchin, Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and Citizen (New York: Aperture, 2013), 31–32. By attempting to capture the subjective experience of their world and by choosing to make that subject the sensation or rather the sensationlessness of motion through color, visual journalists such as Haas translated experience in the jet age into a popular aesthetic of “color consciousness” that was at once sensual and sought to capture a world moving so fast that one did not know whether one was moving or being moved—that defines the glamour of media in motion. Ultimately, it served as an aesthetic for a moment of transition: when color in magazines was relatively new, when the jet was new, when creating consciousness through photographic technique could still convey the experience of such fluidity of motion as a novelty. Max Kozloff in 1975 called Haas the Paganini of Kodachrome. He was a critic who otherwise took a positive view of the relatively new field of color photography, and who also conceded that Haas had been a pioneer in the medium two decades earlier, observing that Haas “had taken it into his head that color photography should be about, not the sensations, but the sensationalizing of color . . . his multiple styles were all a-flutter with the meringues and frappés of a hyped-up palette.”3Max Kozloff, “Photography: The Coming to Age of Color,” Artforum 13, no. 5 (January 1975): 33. But perhaps Kozloff’s first impression was right—Haas’s use of color in photography was about sensation and its relation to invoking the viewer’s subjective experience through the photographer’s lens. Haas made use of color to call forth the sensory experience of motion in his pictures, extending the photographer’s eye to that of the magazine reader. Color photography did more than depict motion. It conveyed the experience of motion that underlay the photographer’s reporting through its “sensationalizing.” Color became a means by which photographers could convey the experience of fluid motion that characterized the world remade in the wake of the jet.
The history of color photography in mass media at mid-century remains untold and underanalyzed. Color photography in print is mostly associated with advertising images, while color in art photography emerged more or less in the 1970s, thus falsely solidifying its history into a bifurcated tale that has erased the earlier history of the photographers who worked in color, including Edward Steichen, Robert Capa, Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and even Ansel Adams. The story regarding color in fine art has emerged as one in which the “starburst” of William Eggleston suddenly appeared at MoMA in 1976 as the key moment in the history of color art photography.4Kevin Moore et al., eds., Starburst: Color Photography in America, 1970–1980 (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2010) summarizes the “art perspective” of such work as Sally Euclaire, ed., New Color/New Work: 18 Photographic Essays (New York: Abbeville, 1984). Recent “revisionist” work, of which this chapter is a part, either acknowledges an earlier art photography trajectory in color and/or does not see the sharp distinctions between art photography and press photography in color. This includes Nathalie Boulouche, Le ciel est bleu: Une histoire de la photographie couleur (Paris: Textuel, 2011); Lisa Hostetler and Katherine A. Bussard, Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman (New York: Aperture, 2013); Cynthia Young, Capa in Color (New York: International Center of Photography, 2014); Kim Timby, “Look at Those Lollipops! Integrating Color into News Pictures,” in Getting the Picture: The Visual Culture of the News, ed. Jason E. Hill and Vanessa R. Schwartz (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 236–43; Patricia A. Johnston, Real Fantasies: Edward Steichen’s Advertising Photography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); and Sally Stein, “The Rhetoric of the Colorful and the Colorless: The American Photography and Material Culture Between the Wars,” vols. 1 and 2 (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1991), Sally Stein, “FSA Color: The Forgotten Document,” Modern Photography (January 1979): 90–99, 162–64, 166, and Sally Stein, “Toward a Full-Color Turn in the Optics of Modern History,” American Art 29, no. 1 (2015): 15–21. Until that time, the view regarding color photography was generally negative. Representative of that view is the critic Hilton Kramer’s response to one of the three inaugural exhibitions at the International Center for Photography in 1974, Eye of the Beholder: “These blow-ups of color photographs quickly settle—as color photographs so often do—into a series of pretty pictures. They simply cannot compete, whether as visual images or documentary reports, with the black and white masterworks to be seen in other exhibitions.”5Hilton Kramer, New York Times, November 23, 1974, 33. Folio 10, box 94, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Papers, 1929–1993 (bulk 1929–93), Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 920060. Evans put his critique of the medium in far more economical terms: “There are four simple words which must be whispered: color photography is vulgar.”6Mary Panzer, “Introduction,” in Inge Morath, First Color (Göttingen: Steidl, 2009), 10. This did not prevent him from photographing in color for Fortune magazine, among other publications, which he did with regularity.7David Campany, Walker Evans: The Magazine Work (Göttingen: Steidl, 2014).
Yet if we consider the “bright modernity” that illuminated society outside the medium of photography, inaugurated by the use of aniline dyes as early as the mid-nineteenth century, color, both materially and symbolically, became associated with new regimes of bourgeois and then mass consumerism. Regina Blaszczyk has identified color’s central role in the proliferation of a range of objects on a palette. Offering product choice by color, marketers could feature such things as seasonal change or could create eye-catching advertising strategies. Such palettes also offered the mass standardization of color and, through color, the mass standardization of culture. Previously, color had been derived only from materials in the natural world or through the effects of optics, since color is also produced by the separation of light. New artificial color fostered a “color revolution,” but at the same time, as Laura Kalba has argued in her important study about color in the late nineteenth century, the combination of its industrialization and commercialization with opticality also allowed for more abstract ways of seeing color. Thus, it was not that painters such as the Impressionists had prepared the way for abstraction in art, but rather that they fit into a broader visual culture derived from material and scientific transformations in color theory and production.8Laura Kalba, Color in the Age of Impressionism: Commerce, Technology and Art (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017), 6; Regina Lee Blaszczyk and Uwe Spiekermann, eds., Bright Modernity: Color, Commerce, and Consumer Culture (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); and Regina Lee Blaszczyk, The Color Revolution (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012). It is essential to follow this notion of the opticality and the sensational quality of modern color through to the history of color photography, first as Kalba does in the history of autochromes at the turn of the century, but also as we will, by looking at mid-century color news pictures, keeping these qualities in mind.
Newsmagazines had published color photos as early as the arrival of the autochrome in 1907, but news photos in color were still rarely made. Yet by the late 1960s the major newsmagazines had essentially transitioned to all-color photography. In fact, color had become so integral to the practice of news photographers that John Morris, executive editor of Magnum, asked everyone on black-and-white assignments to also shoot in color; that way any assignment could be turned into a cover photograph, which were always in color.9Memo from John Morris, July–August 1962. Magnum Photos Collection, 1950–90, AG104, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. There had been experimental early forms such as the Hillotype and the autochrome in the twentieth century, but the explosion of color photography really came with Kodachrome, made first in 1935 for 16mm movie cameras, then for still cameras in 1936, and eventually and importantly for professionals in 1938 in different medium-sized formats. Kodak remained the only processor. Although color film was more expensive (initially three times the cost of black and white), by 1964 more pictures were taken in color than black and white. Color film was made of transparencies, which is to say slides, rather than positive prints. Not until 1941 were there even marketable color prints or color negatives. See Alexander Liberman, The Art and Technique of Color Photography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1951), 144, and Color (Alexandria: Time-Life, 1978), 68.
And yet we know relatively little about the history of color news pictures. They have been neglected because they are twice cursed, first as color and then as journalism, which is not usually studied within the history of photography, and which, in turn, is overlooked in the history of communications and journalism.10See Hill and Schwartz, Getting the Picture, Introduction. The exception especially has been the important work by Barbie Zelizer, Robert Hariman, and John Lucaites: Barbie Zelizer, About to Die: How News Images Move the Public (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Robert Hariman and John L. Lucaites, No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011); Robert Hariman and John L. Lucaites, The Public Image: Photography and Civic Spectatorship (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). Of course within the beating heart of the art museum, under Steichen’s legendary direction, MoMA’s photography department regularly featured news, documentary, and informational photography in such exhibitions as War Comes to the People (1940), Image of Freedom (1941), Road to Victory (1942), Power in the Pacific (1945), Memorable Life Photographs (1951), and The Family of Man (1955).
Steichen did not ignore color photography, either. The blockbuster Family of Man, for example, ended with an eight-foot-tall color transparency of an explosion of a hydrogen bomb that had appeared in Life the year before (fig. 4.1). As a blown-up and backlit transparency, the image also alerts us to what may not have been as apparent to visitors at the time—the material challenges of color photography, which was hardly ever printed as positive prints by professionals. Additionally, Steichen evidently had entertained the idea that this show, always remembered now as hundreds of large-format black-and-white images, would include many images in color. In a May 1954 letter, Inge Bondi of Magnum informed Haas that Steichen had gone to the American Society of Magazine Photographers show, featuring Haas’ New York images in color, to find materials for The Family of Man, which she referred to as “most likely his last show.” (It turned out not to be, by a good seven years.) Bondi goes on to say that Steichen then came to Magnum and looked at “your own editing of Indochina (at his request), and picked three, which he thought superb.” She then asked Haas to bring more material that offered “any human situation.” She said Steichen had emphasized that his show had “no axe to grind, it is just on the universality of mankind.”11Letter from Inge Bondi to Ernst Haas, May 18, 1954. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London.
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Description: New Ivy Pictures Show Fire and Ice by Unknown
Fig. 4.1 “New ‘Ivy’ Pictures Show Fire and Ice,” Life, May 3, 1954, 54–55. Federal Civil Defense Administration released photo
Steichen championed color across a variety of photo genres: Eliot Porter’s Birds in Color (1943); the In and Out of Focus show (1948), which featured many color photos; the 1950 All Color Show, dedicated to mass magazine reproductions and announced as the first in a series of color shows whose focus was primarily technological and included new color printing methods. The new methods included Aero Kodacolor, which had been used during the war for aerial reconnaissance work because these images could be developed in the field. The camera had tiny slits that opened and closed at the same speed as the plane. The All Color Show posed that the problem of photography’s unconscious black-and-white conditioning had led, Steichen argued, to color remaining a riddle.12Edward Steichen, introductory label, All Color Show, 1950, Museum of Modern Art, New York. Such was Steichen’s interest in both color and in Haas that he held an evening program on February 19, 1957, called “Experimental Photography in Color” at the Museum of Modern Art. Its high points, according to Morris, were Haas’ work and some of Roman Vishniac’s microphotographs.13Magnum Paris bureau chief to John Morris, March 3, 1957. Archive of John G. Morris. The memo also explains that the following morning Steichen’s wife, Dana Desboro Clover, died.
Steichen’s exhibitions for the museum in his role as photo curator culminated in commissioning what would be the first show under the curatorial regime that followed his, that of John Szarkowski. It would be a one-man show dedicated to the work of Haas. That show, in 1962, would not be the last time Haas would be shown at MoMA, which continued to show color and news photos long before the supposed “starburst” of color in 1976. Nor was it the first time: he had had photographs hung in the museum every year since 1953. In 1965, a large exhibition called The Photo Essay included a rear-projection slide show of twenty stories (including four by Haas) with both color and black-and-white images organized by essay.14In the 1965 show Haas had work from four of his essays, three in color. See Master Checklist, “The Photo Essay,” MoMA. https://www.moma.org/documents/moma_master-checklist_326377.pdf.
Daily newspapers had always put a premium on speed over image quality, although there was much more color in newsprint than we have accounted for, going back as far as the Illustrated London News’ use of color in December 22, 1855. This work merits archival recovery, from the antics of the Yellow Kid at the turn of the century, in which color played a role in the circulation wars between Pulitzer and Hearst; to the advent of ROP (run of press) color in dailies such as the Milwaukee Journal, beginning in 1891, and the Chicago Tribune; and to such odd publications as the New York Times Midweek Pictorial, which had a special rotogravure section in color. The history of color in newsprint is hard to trace because of the microfilming of periodicals and the pulping of hard copies.15Robert H. Dumke,” The Development of Color Photography in Newspapers,” Image 6, no. 7 (1957): 161; “Newspaper in Color,” Fortune, July 1931, 32–39, 120–26.

Simultaneously, magazines promoted their image production values, so they are easier to assess in this first research phase.
But a mention in an undated letter (probably around 1955) from Morris to photographer David Seymour (also known as Chim) that the executive editor of the Minneapolis Tribune had been in touch about putting the agency on a retainer for a regular use of color seconds (photos already published elsewhere) because they wanted to be the “world’s first newspaper to use front-page color every day” suggests there is a longer history regarding the dailies and their use of color. Charbonnier’s cover image for the March 1961 issue of French magazine Réalités, on life in the Saint-Lazare rail station in Paris, is from this period of “color consciousness” in magazine photography, when color was becoming increasingly important on the editorial side. That color also seemed to be used here, in the center of a busy transport site, to indicate movement and life again suggests that its novelty and visual impact could convey such sensation at the time (fig. 4.2).16It is important to note how much this image resembles the opening credits of the film Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964). The filmmaker, Jacques Demy, was married to Agnès Varda, whose photography was also featured in the issue.
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Description: Black and white to color: cover of Réalités by Unknown
Fig. 4.2 Black and white to color: cover of Réalités, March 1961. Jean-Philippe Charbonnier, photographer
One might imagine that the drive toward more color would fulfill the mission of newsmagazines to provide better and more complete information. As the mid-nineteenth-century lithographer Louis Prang had put it, “Color in a picture is always more satisfactory than the lack of it,” because people wanted what he called “life pictures.”17Neil Harris, Cultural Excursions: Marketing Appetites and Cultural Tastes in Modern America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 320. Color offered greater realism through its descriptive register. As Paul Outerbridge, a photographer known for his experiments with color processes such as carbro printing, complained, “Color states rather than implies as does black and white; it is really quite a bit more difficult to handle by way of getting away from mere reporting and factual representation.”18Paul Outerbridge, US Camera, “About Color” column 34, December 18, 1956. ox 3, folder 4, Paul Outerbridge papers, 1915–79 (bulk 1915–58), Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 870520. This would seem to make it ideally suited for documentation and news.
Yet color posed special problems for production. Robert Capa took what were among Life’s earliest Kodachrome news pictures in 1938, when Wilson Hicks and Edward Thompson asked him to work with the new color in Hankow during the Sino-Japanese war. The goal was to test the materials in the field because there were many unknowns, such as how the film stood up to certain weather conditions and what would happen when there was a long delay between exposure and developing.
Life published the Hankow pictures with a two-month delay. The essay drew attention to the value of using color, as was always the case when color was still rarely seen: “The spectacle of a bombed city cannot be adequately reproduced without its colors.”19“War in China Gambles Asia’s Future,” Life, October 17, 1938, 28. The magazine captions used color merely descriptively: red flames, black fire, blue shirt (fig. 4.3). In other words, the text conveyed that color bolstered the journalistic quality of the images as news. Twenty-five years after Hankow, photographer Larry Burrows covered the Vietnam War for Life and described color in a similar way: “Back came this week’s pictures showing, as only color can, the blood and mud and savagery of war.”20Susan D. Moeller, Shooting War: Photography and the American Experience of Combat (New York: Basic, 1989), 390. Although at that moment in media history television had begun to deliver the news much more quickly than magazines ever could, the idea that magazine images remained the measure of the realistic image well into the 1960s suggests that color was essential to magazines’ continued informational value. Even though television offered an all-color prime-time lineup starting in the mid-1960s, it was not until 1971 that just about half of all U.S. households even had a color television set.21“Color It Color,” Broadcasting, July 26, 1971, 7. See also Susan Murray, Bright Signals: A History of Color Television (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018).
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Description: The Battle of Hankow in Color by Unknown
Fig. 4.3 “The Battle of Hankow in Color,” Life, October 17, 1938, 28–29. Werner Bosshard and Robert Capa photos
Color photography had particular material and technical challenges, including heavier equipment and complicated lighting requirements owing to the slower film. Shooting in color also always meant carrying two cameras. As Réné Burri said, “It means always going about with a lot of cameras slung round your neck.”22Réné Burri. Magnum Photos Collection, 1950–90, AG104, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. Processing took more time than black and white—from developing the transparencies and prints to the printing process itself. Magazines had to send color out to special plants where transfers for color engravings were made separately and then were printed by companies that specialized in color (fig. 4.4). In general, this is what put color news stories on a six-week turnaround, although Life had demonstrated a “fast color” close of two weeks during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, as already discussed.23This is noted in a memo prepared by John Morris, Magnum and Its Markets, June 21, 1954 (New York, 12 pages). Magnum Photos Collection, 1950–90, AG104, 3, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. In fact, Life published its first “fast-closing” news color image about the far less ceremonial occasion of a ship’s arrival into port in 1947 when the magazine published photos taken on October 10 in the November 3 issue.24FYI, November 3, 1947. Box 530, Time-Life Inc. Archive, NYHS. In general, magazines used color reproduction for features that were not time-sensitive, such as travel stories, art features, or in issues during the holiday season.25Melissa Renn, “Life in Color: Life Magazine and the Color Reproduction of Works of Art,” in Bright Modernity: Color, Commerce, and Consumer Culture, ed. Regina Lee Blaszczyk and Uwe Spiekermann (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 167–88.
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Description: Davis Delaney Printing Press by Stoller, Ezra
Fig. 4.4 “Davis Delaney Printing Press,” Fortune, October 1949. Photograph by Ezra Stoller. © Ezra Stoller/Esto
Why use color, given all the challenges? Images in color made a story appear up to date and “of the moment” in the same way that cars with fins looked aerodynamic and cutting-edge. But at the same time, as we know, color looked modern but was materially slow. Life magazine sought to address these challenges in the period immediately after the Second World War. Use of color was still considered so experimental that Life described its color photo lab, established in November 1946, as “one of the few in the U.S.” and noted that it was devoted to “experimentation rather than production,” with the aim of shortening the production schedule and improving the quality of the reproductions. As demands for color increased, Life photographers started to regularly use Eastman high-speed Ektachrome film, according to staff photographer and noted color specialist Eliot Elisofon, which was faster to develop but was thought to sacrifice some image quality. In short, using color film on a story was met with many technical challenges, but the drive to use it in the postwar period led to experimentation despite the constraints.
Additional pressure to move to color in magazine photography came from competing forces in other media, such as the advent of color television, which would make magazines seem to lag behind if they did not transition to color as well. Magazines were already at a disadvantage because they could not compete with TV’s fast delivery of news images. Walt Disney moved his television program from ABC to NBC in order to introduce his Wonderful World of Color in 1961. CBS went to all color programming in the prime-time lineup in the 1965–66 season. Feature films continued to promote the expansion begun in the 1950s of using widescreen for Technicolor movies, which also drew the public’s attention and threatened to dethrone the magazine as the richest visual source of representation concerning the current world.26Timby, “Look at Those Lollipops!” 236–43.
But color photography challenged news photographers compositionally as well as in terms of speed and cost. Haas explained this problem when he wrote that “color is really basically much more difficult because it is an addition. . . . If you would have to photograph the President of the United States and next to him there would be a man in a red pullover, everybody would look at the man in the red pullover.”27“Lecture at Rochester Institute of Technology in April 1986” as cited in Philip Prodger, “Another History of Color,” in William Ewing, ed., Ernst Haas: Color Correction (Göttingen: Steidl, 2011). In other words, photographers are hampered by the fact that they cannot choose the interrelation of colors in the world. Advertising tableaux, on the other hand, are contrived, allowing photographers the freedom to manipulate and control color as they wish, as well as to use it for symbolic and communicative effect. And although advertising images are colorful, color is not merely a form of visual seduction and enticement. Rather, because advertising can be entirely studio produced on long production cycles and large budgets, color can be used as a design element.28Sally Stein, Harry Callahan: Photographs in Color/The Years 1946–1978 (Tucson: Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1980), 19.
The cost, slow speed, and inconvenience of color production is one reason its use provoked skepticism among some of the great photo-reporters, such as Henri Cartier-Bresson. In The Decisive Moment, published in 1954, he argued that it was difficult to foresee how color would grow in photo-reporting because of the time differences between developing and printing in black and white and color and that, in any event, he thought them substantially different enough to require from the photographer a “different approach” altogether, based on the photographer’s inability to control the interrelation of colors within the frame of a news story.29Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952), 48–52. Of course, like everyone else, he followed the trend of working in color and produced many magazine stories in the 1950s in color, such as a Life spread shot in 1958 that was published in the January 5, 1959, issue, “The New China—From Inside.” He later attempted to bury this work as he started to identify increasingly as a fine art photographer, which meant, he felt, perpetuating the false impression that he had worked only in black and white.
As experimentation led to implementation, editors and photographers spoke of certain stories that “demanded” color. As a 1952 Magnum photo agency report to stockholders written by Robert Capa explained, “We have to shoot far more color. . . . This again should not be indiscriminate but should focus on subjects which demand color.”30Magnum Stockholder Report, February 15, 1952, prepared by Robert Capa. Magnum Photos Collection, 1950–90, AG104, 3, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. The demand for color images was so high that Magnum could sell the British publication Illustrated just about anything in color, Capa reported, even as the publication was growing more picky about what Magnum provided in black and white. “While they are more difficult for black and whites they are still wide open for color. . . . Any color subject which is good enough for two pages is good enough for them and they can’t get enough of it. . . . I must repeat that one of the fastest possibilities for improved earning is in shooting more color.”31Magnum Stockholder Report. Henry Luce’s Time Inc. founded Sports Illustrated in 1954 with the idea that it would print lots of images in color. As Norton Wood, associate editor of the new publication, explained in 1958, “On our color pages especially where the magazine makes its major visual display, we use pictures not simply to document events but for the sake of the pictures themselves.”32Norton Wood, “Color in Sports Illustrated,” 1958, 3. Box 11, Wilson Hicks Conference Tapes and Transcripts Collection, 1957–73, Special Collections of the University of Miami Libraries. In what seems an ironic reversal of contemporary ideas of what is “artistic” in photography today, in the 1950s, photographs that were “more visual” would be in color.
The changing proportion of color in relation to black and white also gave magazine people a heightened awareness of the shifting meaning of each. As Pat Hagan of Magnum noted, “The time may not be too distant when black and white will be used for dramatic impact, while most of the work . . . will be in color.”33Pat Hagan to All Magnum Shareholders, “U.S. Editorial Progress and Plans,” May 29, 1952. Archive of John G. Morris. I am grateful for Nadya Bair for sharing this source. This is exactly what came to pass in analogue photography before digital manipulation of a variety of color palettes, including “colorization” and sepia-toning, became an everyday part of the language of photographic images.
Writing many years after the fact, Haas liked to explain his own turn to color photography as quite deliberate and not just part of a trend. He described it as a form of postwar celebration, a new practice and palette to mark the transition to a new era: “I will remember all the war years and the last five bitter post-war years—as black and white years. . . . I wanted to express that the world and life had changed. . . . As at the beginning of a new spring, I wanted to celebrate in color.”34Bryan Campbell and Ernst Haas, Ernst Haas (London: Collins, 1983), 4; Ewing, Ernst Haas, n.p. Haas’ idea that color photography might capture a world both different and brighter than the war-torn world was obviously metaphoric—a bright new day after the darkness of war.
But it was more than that. Haas turned magazine photography in color into something far more resonant.35Lynda Nead, The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Postwar Britain (London: Yale University Press, 2017), devotes a section of her book to untangling the complexity of color in local and historically specific and in more metaphoric terms. He used it to engage viewers in a world that was not just on the move “forward” but moving in ways that might have been imperceptible but for its sensationalizing. Through his particular use of color, Haas “reported” on the world around him, which he lived as a reporter and worked to interpret. In his photos he made color sensational in order to surmount the challenges of working in a static medium while attempting to comment on a new kind of motion, which was so fast and so smooth that it was imperceptible. He communicated this experience not by making photography “painterly” but by extending his experience—of making the pictures—to the viewer. He blurred his photos.
In midsummer 1958, Haas’ work was featured in Life magazine, but not on its cover. Only two months before jet service across the Atlantic would become a habit, the magazine’s cover featured a banner promising that in its pages readers would find information about the “wonderful, wacky photo boom; two billion pictures this year,” although its cover photo seemed to suggest exactly the opposite: nothing wacky at all. Instead, a banal color photograph of two teens happily sailing on a simple boat graced the magazine’s cover, with a surprising caption that read: “Discovering the fun of being pretty” (fig. 4.5).36Life, August 11, 1958. Although the photo itself was hardly unusual, the text showed that a few words could shape the meaning of a picture in an unexpected way.
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Description: Discovering the Fun of Being Pretty by Unknown
Fig. 4.5 “Discovering the Fun of Being Pretty,” Life, August 11, 1958. Paul Schutzer, photographer
Playing with the impact of photography in print had been part and parcel of Life’s mission since 1936. Inside this issue, on the editorial page, readers learned that “the proper study of a picture magazine is photographs—and photographers.” They could peruse an illustrated article about the growth of amateur photography that conceded that sometimes shutterbugs took wonderful pictures but also noted that they were marvelous photographic subjects themselves. At the same time, the publication’s editors used the question of whether one could even distinguish between amateur and professional photography to introduce the first of a two-part color portfolio by Haas.
The Life cover served as a teasing contrast to the Haas portfolio, and the editors warned readers about it. Haas, they noted, had started making blurry images. The editors suggested that in so doing he was actually taking the medium to great new heights. Although the magazine acknowledged that its readers might themselves be expending extraordinary effort to make sharp photos of objects in motion, such as the eruption of the Old Faithful geyser, they noted that the Haas pictures showed that the “camera can produce stimulation for the mind as well as the eye.” The images, they said, were “fuzzy on purpose and for a purpose.”37Life, August 11, 1958, 2. Haas’ blurry photos were not amateur accidents but rather proof that the camera could be deployed to create such effects when in the hands of a photographer who could draw attention to his own presence and create a personal vision. The photos in the series are the sort of visual fare that drew attention to themselves as photographs rather than merely reported events in the world outside the photographs. The blurred pictures show the photographer’s hand, and in that way they are even greater expressions of the relation between photographer and viewer. But they also tempt and taunt the viewer by taking the classic “amateur mistake,” the blur, and aestheticizing it.
Haas’ work formed the centerpiece of the August 11, 1958, issue. It featured photographs across an eight-page spread, “The Magic of Color in Motion,” that addressed both the subjectivity of vision and the seemingly difficult challenge of capturing motion in still photography by using color film and emphasizing motion through the blurring of images. The essay’s captions approached the subject not as a technical matter for photo amateurs, as they might have found it described in a hobbyist publication, but instead addressed the powerful way that color photography had inspired Haas to ponder deep philosophical questions relating to time and space. Its headers and captions explained that the photographer had been troubled by the fact that life and nature “move and are seen not as fixed images but blending, blurring and flowing,” and that “reality is not fixed in time.” Haas, the article explained, used photography to “set out to capture a fourth dimension of time in color.”38Life, August 11, 1958, 2.
In the portfolio, sailboats appear to multiply on the water; around them, the ocean reaches up, surrounding them like steel wool traces. Figures running along the beach, both human and canine, seem to be reduced to so many shadows, while water-skiers blend into the surf with only the outline of their bodies dressed in contrasting colored bathing suits stand out against a dark blue mass of water. All the figures are fuzzy; their contours blend into each other, while the fact that they are in motion is captured by their blur (figs. 4.64.8). The following week, the magazine published the second part of the feature: “Adventure in New Camera Realm,” which went from sea to land in its continuing study of color and motion. The feature’s main caption promised a photographer who could “make the camera see color in motion as the eye sees it, not in fixed images but in a blended flow of color” while drawing attention to the tension “between the staccato movement of living creatures and the fluid progress of machines.”39Life, August 18, 1958, 45.
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Description: The Magic of Color in Motion by Unknown
Fig. 4.6 “The Magic of Color in Motion,” Life, August 11, 1958, 66–71. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: The Magic of Color in Motion by Unknown
Fig. 4.7 “The Magic of Color in Motion,” Life, August 11, 1958, 66–71. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: The Magic of Color in Motion by Unknown
Fig. 4.8 “The Magic of Color in Motion,” Life, August 11, 1958, 66–71. Ernst Haas, photographer
To engage such problems as the fourth dimension of time and the relation of organic creatures to machines connects Haas’ project to the much longer history of photography and motion studies, going all the way back to the late nineteenth-century experiments of Étienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge, who sought to study human motion by using photography to decompose and recompose it in a series of individual moments. The Futurists had also taken up questions of technology and speed, as had Bauhaus artists, especially László Moholy-Nagy, who had urged artists to update their materials to be more in sync with their age.40For general time and motion, see Marta Braun, Picturing Time: The Work of Etienne-Jules Marey (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994); Mary Ann Doane, The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002); Stephen Petersen, Space-Age Aesthetics: Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, and the Postwar European Avant-Garde (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009); Jeffrey Schnapp, ed., Speed Limits (Milan: Skira, 2009); Linda Henderson, The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013). It seems certain that Moholy-Nagy’s publication Vision in Motion (1947) shaped Haas, as it did others of his generation. In Vision in Motion, Moholy-Nagy equated modern visual experience with new forms of transport, especially the car and the plane. For him, the problems of modern man were “seeing while moving” and the “simultaneous grasp”—which is to say considering the ways that single elements were transmuted into a coherent whole.41László Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion (Chicago: P. Theobald, 1947), 10; Oliver Botar, Sensing the Future: Moholy-Nagy, Media and the Arts (Baden: L. Müller, 2014); Achim Borchardt-Hume, ed., Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006). Moholy-Nagy also cared about color and argued for the importance of the modern use of light and motion in creating the effect of a “cult of color,” and he considered how painters had moved toward abstraction and away from narrative in art.42László Moholy-Nagy et al., László Moholy-Nagy: Color in Transparency. Photographic Experiments in Color, 1934–1946 (Göttingen: Steidl, 2006), 39. Thus, if there were such antecedents as these to Haas’ work (and surely there were), how and why the blurry color images made their way to the pages of Life, helping secure his reputation, requires explanation beyond the fact of such antecedents, especially as we consider the newsmagazine context.
“Adventure in New Camera Realm” engaged with what was becoming a common theme in the period regarding mobility and mechanization. Viewers were treated to a symphony of transport by land—first a series of images of man and horse (which bring to mind Muybridge’s pictures of horses in motion). Haas offers an update of a “riderless horse” in the racecar, in which we can see the trace of a driver in a tiny metal bullet (figs. 4.94.11). He speeds so fast that it appears that the car’s frame is bending around the track, leaving the vehicle distorted and blurry. In the very streaks across the printed page the viewer comes to understand that there are three men in motion: two in cars and one holding the camera. The photographer is not only obviously present but also moving and thus re-creating the experience of seeing motion. Haas helped readers manage their own experiences of a world that was going fast yet moving so smoothly that people had no idea who was moving and who was stable, an uncertainty he himself had pondered while in flight, as the epigraph of this chapter suggests.
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Description: Adventure in New Camera Realm by Unknown
Fig. 4.9 “Adventure in New Camera Realm,” Life, August 18, 1958, 44–40. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: Adventure in New Camera Realm by Unknown
Fig. 4.10 “Adventure in New Camera Realm,” Life, August 18, 1958, 44–40. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: Adventure in New Camera Realm by Unknown
Fig. 4.11 “Adventure in New Camera Realm,” Life, August 18, 1958, 44–40. Ernst Haas, photographer
Haas approached these issues as a photojournalist who was working as a reporter. As publications increasingly used color in news pictures, photographers such as Haas sought to create a “color consciousness” in press photography. He called for photos that were “less descriptive—more imaginative; less information—more suggestion; less prose—more poetry.”43Ernst Haas, “Haas on Color Photography,” Popular Photography, Color Annual, 1957, 30. This moment of transition occasioned an opportunity for a photographer such as Haas to use color in a particular way. He asked viewers to look more deeply, through the reporter’s eyes, rather than simply observe that he had mastered the camera’s lens. As he put it in a letter to Magnum, “Don’t cover, but discover. . . . Do we really want to be a catalogue of historie [sic]? . . . Photography is a bridge between science and art. The first bridge ever built. It enables us for the first time to transcend reality with reality in a simultaneous way of give and take.”44“Letter to Magnum, 1960.” Notebooks of Ernst Haas 54, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. Other fine artists during the period had begun to experiment with the ways that “movement and dynamic transformations are the new elements of our visual communication,” as kinetic artist Yaacov Agam put it.45Yaacov Agam, “Syllabus of the Carpenter Center Course,” Harvard University, 1968. Centre Pompidou Library. For Haas, using color photography in newsmagazines allowed him to experiment with a new language of visual communication as well. In color he could adhere to the journalist’s commitment to describe the world while seizing on the chance to convey it as an experience and as a set of new sensations—of fluid motion.
Haas wanted to establish the centrality of his own vision, and he used photography to convey it but never imagined being limited by it. In a letter to John Morris of Magnum while traveling in South Africa on a Life assignment, Haas explained, “I am not a photographer. I am not even interested to be one. It is a pity, but for what I want to be we don’t even have a name yet. Call it a subjective interpreter, call it all kinds of names and you won’t find the right one.”46“Letter to John Morris During South Africa Trip 1958, Magnum Letters—Early.” Notebooks of Ernst Haas, 48, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. Yet he was of course a news photographer, having worked in the international press since 1949, but like most photographers of the era he worked in black and white. Haas had made his reputation chronicling the return of Austrian POWs from Russian camps in the American-financed German-language publication Heute. That photo essay was republished in Life, and its most poignant image carried the heading “What’s in a Picture?” (fig. 4.12).47Haas’s essay was published in Life on August 8, 1949, 30–31, and May 28, 1951, 124. As Haas explained years later, he had actually been in Vienna on an assignment for a fashion story. He abandoned it after being struck by the pathos of the women and children who waited at the train station, with photos in their hands, for their returning loved ones.48“In and Out of Focus,” January 6, 1972, CAC 79:005. Casey Allen Collection, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson.
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Description: Last War Prisoners Come Home to Vienna by Unknown
Fig. 4.12 “Last War Prisoners Come Home to Vienna,” Life, August 8, 1949, 30–31. Ernst Haas, photographer. “What’s in a Picture” image is top row, second from right
At the time those photos were published, his work had garnered enough support and interest that he had been offered a position as a staff photographer at Life as well as received an offer from the Magnum photo agency. In reply, he wrote two letters from London. To Wilson Hicks, photo editor at the magazine, he wrote, “It is [also] the greatest wish of every young photographer to work one day for Life. There is no magazine with a greater understanding of the picture story.” But, he explained, “there are two kinds of photographers. The ones who take pictures for magazines, and the ones who gain something by taking pictures they are interested in. I am the second kind.” He explained that he planned to travel the world for a year. And he added: “Mostly I have found that stories I did on my own ideas were published on more pages than those I did on assignment. I don’t feel at all misunderstood in this world, but I also don’t think there could be many editors who would be able to find quite the right stories for me.”49Letter from Ernst Haas to Wilson Hicks, November 30, 1949. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. He then wrote to Robert Capa, of Magnum, with whom he already had a burgeoning friendship. “I would like to work for Life, but only under your protection so that I do not have to accept everything and be unhappy. Please let me work in New York first and try to realize the first part of my idea.”50Letter from Ernst Haas to Robert Capa, November 30, 1949. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. After the publication of the Vienna story, Haas joined the group of ambitious photojournalists at the Magnum photo cooperative. He was not yet thirty years old.
Haas arrived in the United States by plane from Austria by way of London and Paris in May 1951, speaking (and writing) with a heavily German-inflected English.51Haas’ lack of mastery of English is revealed in the archival materials consulted here. Although he became an accomplished professional, his real distinction emerged after his turn to color photography. As we have seen, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, magazines aggressively expanded the use of color in their pages, and editors were always on the lookout for work in color. Haas had taken his first color photographs experimentally as part of a big black-and-white shoot for an article about New Mexico for Life. The editors saw Haas’ knack for understanding subjects that they imagined as “demanding” color, which at the time had been reserved for such events as coronations, exotic locations, fine-art reproductions, and landscapes. The New Mexico photos inspired Hicks to commission Haas, through Magnum, to do a story about New York that they would publish in an unprecedented twenty-four pages across two issues, in an article titled “Images of a Magic City” (fig. 4.13).52Ernst Haas, “Color vs. Black and White: The Reading of a Photograph,” panel, 1968, 3–4. Box 11, Wilson Hicks, University of Miami Libraries.
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Description: Images of a Magic City, Part I by Unknown
Fig. 4.13 “Images of a Magic City, Part I,” Life, September 14, 1953, 108–17. Ernst Haas, photographer
Haas claims to have shot 150 rolls of color film on his New York assignment as if he were experimenting rather than shooting for an assignment. He culled the photos himself and made a slide presentation at the offices of Life, which was an unusual practice at the time. Unless they were on staff, photographers in the field generally would simply send in their undeveloped film and, sometimes, see the layout before publication. But this New York–based color story had a photographer in town and many transparencies from which to choose. It became an unprecedented occasion from which to develop a kind of working method.
The story would launch Haas as a color specialist, one who could seem to “magically” change reality into something subjective and sensational. “Images of a Magic City” is an essay made of photos rather than a text essay illustrated by photos. As Haas recalled of the assignment, “I remember when I come for the first time with my New York story to Mr. Thompson that was really an attempt to break away from the verbal, to only convince with the visual.” He explained that he had had to leave the country in a hurry because his visa had run out and the magazine wanted caption material, but he frankly had no idea what he had shot where. “What one was after was the kind of essence.”53Ernst Haas, “What I’ve Been Up to Lately,” 1967, 9. Box 11, Wilson Hicks, University of Miami Libraries. Life itself clearly invested a great deal in the two-part feature, which it promoted with a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, where it was described as “two unusual portfolios of color pictures.”54New York Times, September 14, 1953. The project would lead Haas to being considered and perhaps also appreciated as a photographer who pondered the deepest philosophical problems of his age by using color to consider the experience of contemporary life.
In “Magic City,” Haas first used color to render the city unfamiliar in order that it be seen with a new set of eyes (figs. 4.14, 4.15). Many of the images used reflections to encourage viewers to look beyond the subject represented (fig. 4.16, United Nations at left). Cropping and closeups produced an emphasis on a “sharp geometry of lines and shadows,” as one caption, obviously written by Life editors, reads. The “Magic City” images used color to foreground depth, as in the balustrade image with a staircase behind on another plane (fig. 4.16, bottom right), and frequently the reader might have no idea what he or she was seeing, which includes the reflection of the Atlas sculpture at Rockefeller Center, mirrored through a shop window and overlapping with a small bit of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (fig. 4.16, top right). Other images contrasted objects in ironic or playful ways. Color and the play of light and dark dominated many of the photographs in the essay: street signs, cars, painted billboards, multicolor reflections made when oil spread on water (fig. 4.17; see fig. 4.15). These images show the photographer reframing what had been seen as a problem in news reporting. Instead of regarding color as an uncontrollable element in the real world, Haas presented it as “experience.” His work in color suggested that photography could make something interesting of the lack of control and inability to stage color in the world.
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Description: Images of a Magic City, Part I by Unknown
Fig. 4.14 “Images of a Magic City, Part I,” Life, September 14, 1953, 108–17. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: Images of a Magic City, Part I by Unknown
Fig. 4.15 “Images of a Magic City, Part I,” Life, September 14, 1953, 108–17. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: Images of a Magic City, Part II by Unknown
Fig. 4.16 “Images of a Magic City, Part II,” Life, September 21, 1953, 112–17. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: Images of a Magic City, Part II by Unknown
Fig. 4.17 “Images of a Magic City, Part II,” Life, September 21, 1953, 112–17. Ernst Haas, photographer
Haas commented on his desire to capture the fast pace of New York. “When I came to New York, I was kind of fascinated by the speed by which people were working and walking, and I tried to express the New Yorker as a robot.”55Quoted from the script for “Sight and Insight,” Ernst Haas: The Art of Seeing, Part 1 (PBS in cooperation with the BBC, 1962), 5. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. He did this by finding such things as mechanized shapes on rooftops and in improbable places. At the same time, Life magazine sought to position him as a street photographer and urban ethnographer in the spirit of Alfred Kazin’s 1951 book Walker in the City, describing Haas as a “wanderer by nature . . . with an ultra-perceptive eye alert for the obvious, yet hidden things that he might catch with his poetic camera.”56“Poet of the Streets,” FYI, September 18, 1953. Box 338, Folder 3, Time-Life Inc., NYHS. Haas was impressed by a recent book called Poet’s Camera that had paired poetry and photographs in the name of showing that photography could be a creative art by capturing “vivid transient perception,” which is quite different from declarations of art capturing eternal truths and brings it a great deal closer to the work of journalists.57Bryan Holme and Thomas Forman, eds., Poet’s Camera (New York: American Studio, 1946), preface.
The magazine’s internal newsletter explained that the New York story had begun as an experiment in photographic technique and that Haas and a Life photo researcher, June Herman, had wandered the streets of New York for six weeks from 6 A.M. to 7 P.M. It mentions that many of the pictures were taken in the most casual of circumstances, such as the picture in Part I of the locksmith’s trademark, which Haas noticed coming out of a shop where he had a duplicate key made (fig. 4.18).58“Poet of the Streets,” FYI, September 18, 1953. Box 338, Folder 3, Time-Life Inc., NYHS. The magazine emphasized that Haas did not use technical distortions: “Haas doesn’t see anything we could not see ourselves, but in simple direct statements without tricks, he makes us look again at everyday scenes and see them this time through perceptive, sensitive eyes. . . . In stories like this, Life gives readers the extra pair of eyes they need to really perceive the things they look at every day.” The internal newsletter goes on to describe the fact that Haas had been “trained in working in abstract art and modern design” (which was a bit of an exaggeration) and cites “his sensitivity to things [being] made more acute by study of music, poetry and philosophy” (actually true). Finally the newsletter mentions the fact that the photos are in color and that Haas never sets up any of his pictures nor crops them—as if to underscore both the strength of his eye and the magic in reality available to those who can be taught to see.59FYI, September 1953, “Images of a Magic City,” Part II. Box 532, Time-Life Inc., NYHS. It was almost as if just having the photos in color allowed the magic of the real world and the perception of an original eye to take hold.
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Description: Images of a Magic City, Part II by Unknown
Fig. 4.18 “Images of a Magic City, Part I,” Life, September 14, 1953, 124. Ernst Haas, photographer
Haas followed “Magic City” with more magazine work published in Europe, in Réalités, and in the United States in Holiday. Other Life city features followed, on Paris and Venice (figs. 4.194.22). As he mentions in an undated typed note in his archive regarding a cable he sent to Life about his Paris story: “This can be applied to all the city essays which were published.” The cable was written from Singapore in response to Life’s request for caption material from his Paris photo shoot for a layout he had not seen. He explained that Capa had suggested the Paris story in the first place in order that he use his last two weeks in Paris productively before going to Indochina. Capa had nudged him, “Why don’t you follow the leaves?” The cable explains that Haas shot “planless,” as he put it, and “without any intention and without making any notes about where was what, either before, during, or after my search.” He explains that soon he forgot the leaves and went after the light and “these moments when for the sake of compositions, forms, colors and movements relate each other in for me the most thrilling constellations.” He noted that, aside from the major monuments like the Eiffel Tower, he never knew where he was, and he left before seeing the results of his work and could not go back to reshoot anything. “I feel sorry now for the people who have to search from where my pictures are shot, as they very often existed more in my photographic imagination than in reality.”60Ernst Haas, cable to Life New York concerning Paris story, n.d. (probably 1955). Notebooks of Ernst Haas, 25, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. Of course the sites were real places, but Haas makes his point clear: he intended his photos to constitute a form of subjective vision and did not feel that was foreign to the news genre.
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Description: The Glow of Paris by Unknown
Fig. 4.19 “The Glow of Paris,” Life, August 1, 1955, 56–61. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: The Glow of Paris by Unknown
Fig. 4.20 “The Glow of Paris,” Life, August 1, 1955, 56–61. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: The Glow of Paris by Unknown
Fig. 4.21 “The Glow of Paris,” Life, August 1, 1955, 56–61. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: Mirror of Venice by Unknown
Fig. 4.22 “Mirror of Venice,” Life, June 25, 1956, 74–75. Ernst Haas, photographer
Haas did make choices about where he went and what stories to do, and the cities were not in fact interchangeable. In an undated letter from “MHS” (probably Margot Shore) to Magnum New York to report on Haas’ intentions, she explains that Haas had asked Magnum if he could go to Venice to do an autumn story: “He’s chosen Venice particularly because there are no leaves—only water and boats and birds; and he doesn’t want falling leaves in any more color stories for a while. This will no doubt be another Haas color triumph, he has it well in mind, and since I know both Venice and Ernst, I bet it would be a fine idea.”61Undated letter from MHS (probably Margot Shore) to Magnum NY office, signed “Miss Busyfingers,” circa 1955. Magnum box, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. In other words, like a good journalist, he knew where to go to pick his story, and the Magnum staff had the confidence that wherever he went, he would create a “triumph” in color. In fact, Haas’ reputation and success in color photo essays within the Magnum offices grew so much during that period that another memo referred to their own internal jokes about it: “One of the major jokes of the week here in New York is that the minute we sold another of Ernst Haas’ color essays to Life he began doing water colors on the same subject in the office—and so good that I am going to determinedly suppress them!”62Magnum Paris bureau chief to John Morris, memo, April 19, 1957. Archive of John G. Morris. This implied that Haas was an artist who worked in color like a painter. When covering a football game whose rules he absolutely did not comprehend and asked who was playing, he simply replied, “Color against color.”63Magnum Newsletter (draft), December 7, 1955. Archive of John G. Morris.
Haas became an evangelist for photographers as privileged “modern” imagemakers—at once capable of invoking the subjectivity of vision but able to also produce reportorial accuracy. “You really are what you see” are the final words of the television show that was authored and presented by Haas, a coproduction of PBS and the BBC. Filmed during the dead of summer in 1962 (August 15–September 1), the program offered an experiment in educational television. Haas celebrated the fact that the producers had chosen a photographer as host. He positioned the photographer as someone working in a new medium, and he did not acknowledge that it was more than one hundred years old. Instead, he explained that, as an artist, the photographer never uses memory but is “simultaneous” to what he is depicting. Of course he is also physically displaced by being physically present as well. The script notes, “And is it not interesting that we live in the most visual age and it is the seeing which is the least cultivated, maybe, because it is the most taken for granted sense. . . . We never really learn to see.” He went on to note that photographers hold a “frame against reality: we analyze reality into values.”64Script, “Sight and Insight,” Part 1, 2, 4. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. The four episodes were titled “Sight and Insight,” “The Decisive Moment,” “Stretching the Moment,” and “Beyond Reality.”
The four half-hour presentations consisted of three- to five-minute filmed sequences of Haas walking around in the streets working as a photographer at the start, but for the most part the action took place in his photo studio, which had been transformed into a television set, and concentrated on issues of temporality and mobility and their relation to seeing. This focus no doubt came in part from the fact that the program was filmed in black and white. It may seem strange that across town, at the very same moment, the Museum of Modern Art was featuring many of Haas’ color photos in a one-man show that had opened on August 21, yet the limits of filmed television’s palette (a budgetary and distribution rather than a literal technological limit) shaped his television instruction and message on the four programs, which do not mention color at all.65It was precisely the exploitation of color television that led the BBC to sign Kenneth Clark to narrate and write what become a game-changing series, Civilisation, for the BBC in 1969. In two later episodes of “In and Out of Focus,” a WNYC show, both broadcast in the 1970s in color, Haas is introduced as “the world’s greatest color photographer,” CAC 79:055. Casey Allen Collection, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson.
The show’s most interesting content comes as Haas explicates the “decisive moment,” in keeping with Cartier-Bresson’s views on the subject, when he walks viewers through how contact sheets tell the story of a photographer’s experience of a photo shoot, just as he must have done with Cartier-Bresson on NBC a few years earlier when the two of them appeared on the Home show explaining how they used contact sheets to determine the best image from a group of images.66Bair, Decisive Network. He suggests that artistic composition had such moments embedded within them, from skating routines to dances. He offered the anecdote that while covering the Olympics, every photographer was led through the routine enough that they understood when it would culminate, and they would all be ready to snap a picture at the key moment. Haas explained that it is not photography per se that isolated such moments, and he showed Goya drawings of bullfights to make his point. He implied that the photographer actually seeks to reconstitute lived experience by looking at his contact sheet as though able to re-create life as though it were “choreographed”—like a skating routine (fig. 4.234.24).
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Description: Ernst Haas with contact sheet, The Art of Seeing by Unknown
Fig. 4.23 Ernst Haas with contact sheet, The Art of Seeing, August 1962. New York Public Television
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Description: Contact sheet, The Art of Seeing by Unknown
Fig. 4.24 Contact sheet, The Art of Seeing
In discussing motion Haas also introduced the question of duration. He emphasized that photography’s distinction inhered in a reportorial act of presence. The photoreporter must be present at the moment in which he “put[s] together the past and the future in the present.”67Script, “The Decisive Moment,” Part 2, Ernst Haas: The Art of Seeing (PBS in cooperation with the BBC, 1962), 7. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. For more on the relation between the artist and the reporter, see Hill, Artist as Reporter. Such notions led to a discussion of the idea of stretching the moment, of representing the sensation and feeling of motion itself, and of the moments between moments, and of the simultaneity of time. He illustrated his points first by turning to a discussion of the Futurists, whom he understood as having grappled with these questions earlier in the century, and then to motion photographers such as Gjon Mili whose work on stop-motion photography, which used a stroboscopic flash to keep action in sharp focus, was known as an aestheticized scientific photography.68Kate Flint, Flash! Photography, Writing, and Surprising Illumination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). See also Jason E. Hill, “Sight After Sight: Life’s Time,” unpublished paper. Haas explicated his own motion work with images from the “Magic of Motion in Color” Life photos. He never mentions the importance of color to the endeavor—instead he focuses on how he used the fluidity of the water in the photos of sailboats and in his images of people running on the beach to capture and to re-create the experience of motion.
The link drawn out by Haas between the photography of motion and the moment of the 1950s and 1960s presented itself in many different kinds of magazine photography. For example, Diana Vreeland explained of Avedon: “His taste is equaled by a flamboyant sense of movement. . . . He can get more from a model than anyone I know. He’s their time of day, their age and their generation. He’s a super-duper craftsman.”69Phyllis Lee Levin, “Fantasy Marks the Work of Fashion Photography,” New York Times, April 5, 1957. Although comments about craft always seem to refer to artistic quality, Avedon’s singularity as a fashion photographer also appeared to reside in his capturing his own moment through his dedication to movement. Critic Arthur Knight observed in an article published after the release of the film Funny Face, for which Avedon worked as a visual consultant: “The plasticity of dance, the grace of its positions—at once fixed and fluid—gave him [Avedon] an approach to photography that has since become his characteristic. Avedon’s models are not posed: they are caught in mid-flight.”70Arthur Knight, “Choreography for Camera,” Dance Magazine 22, no. 6 (June 1970): 21. Avedon also believed that motion brought a more true-to-life dimension to his photography, despite nothing about fashion photography being remotely realistic. As he put it in Commercial Camera in 1949, “Real people move, they bear with them the element of time, not time in the sense of aging, but time in the sense of motion. . . . It is the fourth dimension of people that I try to capture in a photograph.”71Richard Avedon, “Time for Motion . . . the Fourth Dimension,” Commercial Camera 2, no. 2 (1949): 9.
Such notions permeated the Haas series. The third episode, “Stretching the Moment,” begins with a tight-frame filming of the tracks from inside a railroad car, and thus is very much engaged with the mechanization of motion that Haas and contemporaries (and the Futurists before them) foregrounded in relation to questions of vision. The obvious problem with the television program having been presented in black and white is that Haas himself had explored so many of these issues with color photography. His work suggested that it was color that had changed even the most important of photojournalistic notions: “The decisive moment in black and white and color are not identical,” he noted elsewhere.72Campbell and Haas, Ernst Haas, 4. Color leads the viewer to consider what lies between moments rather than within a moment. He said, “I am fascinated by dynamic time and the change from a three-dimensional world into a two-dimensional image with a four-dimensional awareness.”73Ruth A. Peltason, ed., Ernst Haas Color Photography (New York: Abrams, 1989), 13. And so in many ways the program left him diverting some of his key issues onto other questions.
Haas explained that his experience focusing on motion began when he started to work with color because one could mix colors without losing them into a “common grey as happens in black and white photography. To follow a movement with a camera is as obvious as following a movement with one’s eyes. . . . A moment does not have an absolute time length and can be stretched. The appearance of the picture will then not depend only on the shutter speed, but on the movement of the camera in relation to the movement of the subject.” He describes how he moved his whole body and opened and closed his shutter manually.74“Motion.” Notebooks of Ernst Haas, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. Color offered the occasion to “see as the eye sees, not in fixed images but in a blended flow of color.” In his work, Haas repeatedly referred to color as flow and a blur, eliding it with motion. He described his reporting on the Barnum Circus in 1961, explaining that, “All I saw was a blur of motion in color.”75“Story from Magnum: Ernst Haas at Barnum Circus,” October 6, 1961. Job Books, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. Haas had to use slow shutter speed to avoid underexposure, but this made it impossible to freeze the action, so he panned the camera; the blur signals action and motion. None of this technique, which had garnered him a great deal of attention, could be demonstrated on the program.
Instead, by the third episode’s end, he was picking up petrified wood, stones, and red cabbages and arguing that anything that grew offered an opportunity for a motion study. Nothing, it seems, could be further from pondering the industrial mechanization of motion than these organic models. Haas himself always struggled with these “elements.” In fact, his interest in structures and forms grew over time, but it is clear that the show’s filming in black and white pushed him toward such a discussion. He never did another television series, and there is little archival trail regarding its success or failure, but it is instructive regarding his emphasis on subjective vision and motion because it makes evident that, absent color, Haas’ unique contributions recede into generalized formalist discussions that are not that distinct from earlier twentieth-century views that combined Futurism’s preoccupations with mechanization and motion with the period’s interest in abstraction.
Haas experimented with color by blurring his images to capture the dynamic nature of what photography had otherwise tended to freeze and condense. He called his technique “motion photography,” but he blurred only his images in color. Haas eventually turned to using the blur to depict motion itself, although here, too, he was hardly the first to apply this technique. Amateurs had been accidentally blurring their images for years, as discussed in the Life “Magic in Motion” article. He may well, however, have inadvertently championed or participated in a broader popular trend in blurry images. A U.S. Camera article suggested this trend not long after the Haas photos were published when it asked, “Are Photographers Going Blur Crazy?” That magazine, however, interpreted the blur rather differently from how Haas saw it. U.S. Camera saw the blur as a “lens” eye effect, explaining that the blur was proof of “images never seen in reality by the human eye. Instead they are products of the camera.”76U.S. Camera 28, no. 12 (December 1961): 50. For scholar Kim Beil, such images also relate to the broader culture of speed associated with contemporary experiences of the open road and automobility.77Kim Beil, “Vision Control: The Inversion of Motion Blur and the Thrills of Speed on the Page,” unpublished manuscript, to appear in a forthcoming book with Stanford University Press. I would like to thank the author for sharing her work with me. But I would suggest that transport culture is being invoked more generally and that the jet certainly defined the “speed” of the age enough to have given it a name. But, more significantly, the point of such photography is that Haas insisted it stood as a mark of “subjective” vision rather than camera vision.
Haas’ blurred motion photos were in color—which was at once the most mass cultural of modes and the most subjective of idioms; this may be one reason why it could function so effectively in Life, for example. The publication presented Haas as a formalist of sorts; naïve as a reporter but all the better as a knowing eye. For example, in the essay “Beauty in a Brutal Art,” whose subtitle, “Great Cameraman Shows Bullfight’s Perfect Flow of Motion,” his incomprehension of the rules of bullfighting supposedly helped him see it better (fig. 4.25). The story, which made quite a stir upon its publication in the summer of 1957, directed readers less to the subject of bullfighting and more to how Haas had photographed it. According to Haas, “The spectacle is all motion; that is what I tried to get in these pictures. Motion, the perfection of motion, is what the people come to see. They come hoping that this bullfight will produce the perfect flow of motion. And sometimes it does.”78Life, July 29, 1957, 57. The fascination with a seemingly arcane, brutal, and primitive “pre-mechanized” form of motion also emphasized the role the photographer played in negotiating for readers this transition in the history of the mechanization of motion through color photography, in which photos had a particular power to simultaneously report and interpret the experience of a fast-moving world.
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Description: Beauty in a Brutal Art by Unknown
Fig. 4.25 “Beauty in a Brutal Art,” Life, July 29, 1957, 56–65. Ernst Haas, photographer
Across five two-page photo spreads, including a second page centerfold of the picador astride a horse with a charging bull, the crowd in the arena behind is reduced to a blur (fig. 4.26). In the foreground the blur effect is a mere shadowy sort of double vision. The images of the matador on foot in relation to the charging bull are its most intriguing images. They capture the dance between the matador and bull as aided by his cape (fig 4.27, right). The bottom left corner image, however, offers no blur. There perhaps is the fight’s decisive moment: the matador’s sword is “half-buried in the bull,” the caption explains. We see the two muletas stuck in the bull’s back, almost like wings, knowing all these knives will eventually stop the dance of death. In letters in response to the essay, one reader noted, “Haas is a genius. No one can deny this is art. The pages seem to plunge you right into the symphony of color and motion.”79Life, August 19, 1957, 12. Letters such as this one, which comment on the quality of the image rather than on its content, underscore how Haas’ work was positioned in the magazine as creating a photographic effect—color and motion.
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Description: Beauty in a Brutal Art by Unknown
Fig. 4.26 “Beauty in a Brutal Art,” Life, July 29, 1957, 56–65. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: Beauty in a Brutal Art by Unknown
Fig. 4.27 “Beauty in a Brutal Art,” Life, July 29, 1957, 56–65. Ernst Haas, photographer
The 1962 MoMA one-man show Ernst Haas: Color Photography also celebrated Haas for his sophisticated engagement with color photography. As the exhibition’s press release explained, “The color sensation itself is the subject matter of his work. No photographer has worked so successfully to express the sheer physical joy of seeing.”80MoMA Press Release, “Ernst Haas—Color Photography,” August 4, 1962. https://www.moma.org/documents/moma_press-release_326283.pdf. But John Szarkowski, who inherited the show from departing photo curator Edward Steichen, could not decide whether he liked the work. In fact, years later, he critiqued Haas, saying that “he had had to sacrifice the specificity of photo (which is not abstraction) in order to make color work.”81As cited in Inge Bondi, critique of Haas to Fritz Semak, unpublished manuscript on Ernst Haas, 228. Thanks to Bondi for sharing her unpublished work with me. Preparatory notes that became wall labels included a discussion of Haas’ interest in the fourth dimension, calling it, “that which lies between moments” rather than within a moment: “In music one remembers never one tone, but a melody, a theme, a movement. In dance, never a moment, but again the beauty of a movement in time and space.”82Peltason, Ernst Haas Color Photography, 13–14. In these color photos, Haas contemplated the questions of duration and motion that he seemed to ponder in midair, how experience was not so much broken down but put together—how it flowed.
Haas’ solo show culminated more than ten years of exhibition history at the museum. He had made his MoMA debut in the Memorable Life Photographs Show (1951), with his Austrian returning-POW image of the small girl holding the photo and crying (see fig. 4.12). Not that long before his “Magic City” publication in 1953, in May of that year, his photos were among those in a three-hundred-photo show dedicated to European photographers that featured twenty-seven of his photos alone (more than any other photographer’s); the press release for that show discussed Haas’ work first. He also had five photos displayed as part of The Family of Man exhibition (1955). When the museum opened its photography center (named after Steichen) in 1964, Haas’ color work was included in the inaugural exhibition.83MoMA Press Release, “Art in a Changing World,” May 27, 1964. https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/3448?locale=en. Photographs from the “Magic of Color in Motion,” from the bullfight essay, from a 1963 “Spring Comes to England” essay, and from his Austrian prisoner of war essay were all included in the 1965 exhibition The Photo Essay, which emphasized the photographer’s subjectivity. As a wall label explained, “In the decade after World War II, the photographer became an individual observer, and emphasis shifted to the quality of his personal vision . . . not the exterior event but the photographer’s reaction to it.”84MoMA Press Release, “The Photo Essay” March 16, 1965. https://www.moma.org/documents/moma_press-release_326378.pdf. Although one might read this as a statement of transforming journalism into art by making reporters into “auteurs,” it is also clear that this framing suggests a visual form of New Journalism may have coalesced in images even before it did in words.
Haas may have defined color photography as a photo whose subject “is color,” but he also had a strong sense of what color could reveal: “Colors change according to the light in nature as well as to exposure. . . . The absolute color of a mountain does not exist.” Such statements help us understand how Haas sought to make images drawn from the world rather than images of the world. He said that color photography worked this way: “It is the image of a fact, heightened by imagination, and not (as with a painted picture) an illusion which becomes a truth.”85Ernst Haas, “Ernst Haas on Color Photography,” Popular Photography, Color Annual (1957): 30. Despite later dismissal of his work for its aspiration to be painterly, Haas remained wedded to the idea that photography also could reveal fact despite his commitments to formal experimentation.
Haas braided time and space and also worked across multiple forms of media. He never committed to photography as his only medium because he was driven by his urges to visually express what could be observed regarding the major issues of the day, which he took to be mechanization more generally. As he explained at the Wilson Hicks Photojournalism Conference in Miami in 1967: “Be as flexible as possible; learn everything, go into the television field, learn the camera; learn movie making, and don’t forget the hand over the finger—draw, paint, and let yourself go. Become a universal visual man.”86Ernst Haas, “What I’ve Been Up to Lately,” 1967, 29, 9. Box 11, Wilson Hicks Conference Tapes and Transcripts Collection, 1957–1973, Special Collections of the University of Miami Libraries. This interest no doubt also derived from his work environment and the exposure he had to fields such as motion pictures.
Very few professional photographers worked only with still cameras. For example, Magnum photographers like Haas often worked on movie sets because such locations provided lucrative work for the agency. Haas photographed location shoots as well as movie sets for magazines and was one of the eight Magnum photographers to participate in an important agency contract to photograph the Reno location set of John Huston’s film The Misfits (1960; fig. 4.28).87Alain Bergala and Magnum Photos Inc., Magnum Cinema: Photographs from 50 Years of Movie-Making (London: Phaidon, 1995). His set photographic style varied but included working in the idiom in which he took his bullfight photos, as in an image of Robert Wise’s West Side Story (1960; fig. 4.29).88For more on Haas movie set photographs, see Walter Moser, Ernst Haas Cinéma, ed. John P. Jacob (Göttingen: Steidl, 2014).
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Description: On the set of The Misfits by Haas, Ernst
Fig. 4.28 On the set of The Misfits, 1960, directed by John Huston. Ernst Haas, photographer
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Description: On the set of West Side Story by Haas, Ernst
Fig. 4.29 On the set of West Side Story, 1960, directed by Robert Wise. Ernst Haas, photographer
Magazine photographers did more than take still photos on movie sets, and they were especially influential when it came to working with color. Eliot Elisofon, for example, worked as a “color consultant” for the films Moulin Rouge (1952, dir. John Huston) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965, dir. George Stevens) (where Haas also took set photos). Avedon exercised an important visual artistic influence on the set of the Paramount musical Funny Face, based in no small measure on his knowledge of color. By the time of the shoot in 1956, he had become the image of the fashion photographer enough to serve as the model for the one played by Fred Astaire in the film, which opened in February 1957. And Avedon was the perfect photographer to be played by Fred Astaire. He regularly attended the theater, loved watching dance, studied dance, and was known to be an excellent dancer himself. He said, “I wanted to grow up and be Fred Astaire, that burst of energy, you’re twenty-one, twenty-two. I mean I couldn’t start a portrait studio. I loved to dance, to move . . . I just liked moving.”89Marianne Le Gaillard, “Jacques Henri Lartigue dans l’air du temps (1966–1967). Entre la naissance et la consecration veritable de sa photographie,” Etudes photographiques (Spring 2015): 64–84. He also had photographed dancers early in his career and used dancers to lay out his fashion shoots before he turned to his models.
Funny Face contends with the art of capturing motion and making it into pictures via its use of color. Avedon’s role extended far beyond his serving as a consultant to assure there were no errors in portraying the work and habits of photographers. This image of Avedon and Astaire on the set of Funny Face, published in Harper’s Bazaar, suggests that the film did more than simply depict an Avedon-like protagonist (fig. 4.30). With the flip of a lightbox switch, and by placing a large-format negative of Audrey Hepburn’s face on top, with a Rolleiflex and a set of grease pencils adorning the box to the right, Astaire sings the film’s eponymous title song (fig. 4.31). The sequence plays with the art not of “taking” pictures but of making them: laying them out, working with color, and transforming the photographic image into a designed and printed object in a magazine. The film was also not a musical for nothing. It “choreographed” the photographer’s actions and camera work as a form of dance—as an art in motion and color. Dance numbers highlight color photographic techniques: in Hepburn’s bohemian dance, the lighting copies the use of blurred colored lights that Avedon had used in a Revlon ad campaign that also appeared on a record album (figs. 4.324.34); in a darkroom dance between Hepburn and Astaire under red light (not quite the appropriate darkroom lighting) the photographic process is also on display, and it ends up with Hepburn’s actual face pinned against the light-table, which is then compared to the slightly overexposed portrait he had just developed. In “Think Pink,” the magazine editor’s song at the film’s start, the VistaVision widescreen technology transforms the screen into a magazine spread—opened and laid out for a sumptuous display of commodities in the same color. For example, against a black background, big consumer objects such as shoes appear as if in an advertising campaign (fig. 4.35); in another tableau a group of three pink clad girls of successive sizes and their mother pop onto the canvas (fig. 4.36); and in yet another tableau a woman in pink chiffon slowly and luxuriously swings in and out of the frame in slow motion with the camera lingering on the fabric. The Paris location number, “Bonjour Paris,” turns the screen into a color slideshow of a travel magazine such as Holiday (fig. 4.37).
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Description: Richard Avedon and Fred Astaire on the set of Funny Face by Seymour, David
Fig. 4.30 Richard Avedon and Fred Astaire on the set of Funny Face, 1957, directed by Stanley Donen. Published in Harper’s Bazaar, August 1956. David (Chim) Seymour, photographer
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Description: Title sequence, Funny Face by Unknown
Fig. 4.31 Title sequence, Funny Face, 1957, directed by Stanley Donen. Paramount Pictures. DVD screen capture
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Description: In a dark nightclub with red lighting, Funny Face by Unknown
Fig. 4.32 In a dark nightclub with red lighting, from Funny Face. DVD screen capture
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Description: Jazz, Revlon advertisement by Unknown
Fig. 4.33 Revlon advertisement, “Jazz,” 1954. Richard Avedon, photographer
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Description: Jazz: Red Hot and Cool, album cover by Avedon, Richard
Fig. 4.34 Album cover, “Jazz: Red Hot and Cool,” Dave Brubeck Quartet, 1955. Columbia Records. Richard Avedon, photographer
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Description: Think Pink, from Funny Face by Unknown
Fig. 4.35 “Think Pink,” Funny Face. DVD screen capture
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Description: Think Pink, from Funny Face by Unknown
Fig. 4.36 “Think Pink,” Funny Face. DVD screen capture
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Description: Bonjour Paris, from Funny Face by Unknown
Fig. 4.37 “Bonjour Paris,” Funny Face. DVD screen capture
Fashion photography mirrors filmmaking in the film, and the photographer becomes the director. The film’s spectacular fashion show and its most dazzling and deliberate visual effects occur in the moment when Jo, the Hepburn character, assumes her role as a fashion model and actress to Astaire’s director. She and Dick Avery go on location in the streets of Paris, and the photo shoot transforms into a film set. The photographer assumes the role of director as he establishes mock scenarios to set story, mood, and emotion, and directs her actions. In the sequence’s most memorable vignette, filmed at the Louvre as Hepburn is coming down a set of stairs dressed in a red gown with Winged Victory behind her, Dick yells, “Stop,” and she replies, “I don’t want to stop. I like it. Take the picture. Take the picture” (fig. 4.38). In each of the Paris vignettes he freezes her motion with his shutter; the image goes from being a positive to a negative, and the image is filtered in a single color, or certain elements such as balloons or a coat are colored in and others left in black and white. The film emphasizes how color provides the visual form through which the traveling-dancing photographer-cum-film director can stop the moving subject and emphasize motion; the photograph remains stable while the colors change.
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Description: Model in the Louvre, from Funny Face by Unknown
Fig. 4.38 “Model in the Louvre,” Funny Face. DVD screen capture
It was thus also not so unusual for Haas to get involved in a big-budget motion picture, although his arrangement was unusual. While Avedon’s “camerawork” was surreptitious and advisory, Haas actually took up the moving picture camera himself and acted as what amounted to a second unit director precisely because of his photographic work in color and motion. When Dino de Lauretiis asked John Huston to direct an epic production of The Bible, the director turned to Haas to film the opening fifteen-minute sequence of the creation of the world. Haas went to far-off locations in Iceland with a crew of four, shooting volcanoes and waterfalls. Haas’ enthusiasm for handling a motion picture camera, as well as his inexperience, caused problems with Huston. In a 1964 telegraph from the director sent to Haas, who was in Ecuador, Huston complained, “Rushes of last two film shipments sadly disappointing in both conception and execution. In fact, nothing since Iceland. . . . Spoiled by amateur panning and zooming. Stop. You would agree on seeing that material falls far short of our aims and your capabilities. Stop. Sorry to Convey These Sad Tidings John Huston.”90Telegram from John Huston to Ernst Haas, July 14, 1964. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. Perhaps the transition from still photographer to movie director was not as seamless as Haas had hoped, and although Huston may have been disappointed with Haas’ work, his sequence came to define the film’s visually significant contribution, which was often singled out in reviews. It appeared that Haas, finally able to film things that moved, had a free hand (fig. 4.39). The film opens with blurs of color that eventually take shape as clouds, and we see the creation of the heavens. One reviewer described the opening sequence as the film’s “most imaginative and successful portion” and noted that it was shot by Haas, whom he described as the film’s second unit director.91Henry Hart, “The Bible,” Films in Review 17, no. 8 (October 1966): 518. Images that Haas took from this project became the core for his 1971 photobook The Creation.
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Description: In the Beginning sequence from The Bible by Huston, John
Fig. 4.39 “In the Beginning” sequence, from The Bible, 1964, directed by John Huston. 20th Century Fox. Ernst Haas, photographer, Getty Images
During the period under examination here, Haas exemplifies how magazines could use color in their editorial pages to capture their age. Haas’ work could communicate the experience of motion while also establishing a subjective, personal, and sensational vision of it. If the jet set was proof that everyone and anyone could be in motion and the world was sent spinning and the social order reshuffled like a deck of beautiful people in pretty pictures, color photography as Haas employed it offered magazine readers the opportunity to experience the sensation of motion through the sensationalism of color. At a more mundane level, color also offered news photographers like Haas and Avedon new materials that allowed them to move between media such as widescreen Technicolor film and color television while keeping magazines visually fresh as they vied to describe the present and engage the public’s attention.
Color news photographs did not simply deliver more information about the world in the 1960s, although they did offer more description, which in a journalistic setting became a pretext for using color film. For Haas, it was something different to work in color. Haas explained that “I try to find my inside image in the outside reality.”92Notebooks of Ernst Haas, 15. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. By considering color photography through the eyes of Ernst Haas we can understand the way that photojournalism in the jet age helped reorient the entire field of journalism toward the more subjective and expressive style of the New Journalism. Color pictures changed the written expression. It should come as no surprise that one of the classic essays of New Journalism, Tom Wolfe’s famous 1963 Esquire essay, would be loaded with color in its title: “There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy Kolored (Thphhhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (Rahghhhh!) Around the Bend (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm . . .).” Perhaps these Haas images were his visual inspiration (fig. 4.40). Motion, Haas noted in his television program, was “the pulse of life itself.” Color in motion, however, was not fluid or sensationless; it became sensational. Too sensational perhaps for the art critics then and ever since, but perhaps such sensation also worked to reassure those skeptics who might have doubted the promises and dreams of the jet age aesthetic that would soon, literally, come screeching to a halt.
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Description: Adventure in New Camera Realm by Unknown
Fig. 4.40 “Adventure in New Camera Realm,” Life, August 18, 1958, 50–51. Ernst Haas, photographer
Epigraph: Letter from Ernst Haas to Robert Capa, n.d., 1954. Notebooks of Ernst Haas, Ernst Haas Archives, Getty Images, London.
 
1     “In and Out of Focus,” December 15, 1978, CAC 79:055. Casey Allen Collection, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. »
2     Fred Ritchin, Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and Citizen (New York: Aperture, 2013), 31–32. »
3     Max Kozloff, “Photography: The Coming to Age of Color,” Artforum 13, no. 5 (January 1975): 33. »
4     Kevin Moore et al., eds., Starburst: Color Photography in America, 1970–1980 (Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz, 2010) summarizes the “art perspective” of such work as Sally Euclaire, ed., New Color/New Work: 18 Photographic Essays (New York: Abbeville, 1984). Recent “revisionist” work, of which this chapter is a part, either acknowledges an earlier art photography trajectory in color and/or does not see the sharp distinctions between art photography and press photography in color. This includes Nathalie Boulouche, Le ciel est bleu: Une histoire de la photographie couleur (Paris: Textuel, 2011); Lisa Hostetler and Katherine A. Bussard, Color Rush: American Color Photography from Stieglitz to Sherman (New York: Aperture, 2013); Cynthia Young, Capa in Color (New York: International Center of Photography, 2014); Kim Timby, “Look at Those Lollipops! Integrating Color into News Pictures,” in Getting the Picture: The Visual Culture of the News, ed. Jason E. Hill and Vanessa R. Schwartz (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 236–43; Patricia A. Johnston, Real Fantasies: Edward Steichen’s Advertising Photography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000); and Sally Stein, “The Rhetoric of the Colorful and the Colorless: The American Photography and Material Culture Between the Wars,” vols. 1 and 2 (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1991), Sally Stein, “FSA Color: The Forgotten Document,” Modern Photography (January 1979): 90–99, 162–64, 166, and Sally Stein, “Toward a Full-Color Turn in the Optics of Modern History,” American Art 29, no. 1 (2015): 15–21. »
5     Hilton Kramer, New York Times, November 23, 1974, 33. Folio 10, box 94, Beaumont and Nancy Newhall Papers, 1929–1993 (bulk 1929–93), Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 920060. »
6     Mary Panzer, “Introduction,” in Inge Morath, First Color (Göttingen: Steidl, 2009), 10. »
7     David Campany, Walker Evans: The Magazine Work (Göttingen: Steidl, 2014). »
8     Laura Kalba, Color in the Age of Impressionism: Commerce, Technology and Art (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2017), 6; Regina Lee Blaszczyk and Uwe Spiekermann, eds., Bright Modernity: Color, Commerce, and Consumer Culture (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017); and Regina Lee Blaszczyk, The Color Revolution (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2012). »
9     Memo from John Morris, July–August 1962. Magnum Photos Collection, 1950–90, AG104, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. There had been experimental early forms such as the Hillotype and the autochrome in the twentieth century, but the explosion of color photography really came with Kodachrome, made first in 1935 for 16mm movie cameras, then for still cameras in 1936, and eventually and importantly for professionals in 1938 in different medium-sized formats. Kodak remained the only processor. Although color film was more expensive (initially three times the cost of black and white), by 1964 more pictures were taken in color than black and white. Color film was made of transparencies, which is to say slides, rather than positive prints. Not until 1941 were there even marketable color prints or color negatives. See Alexander Liberman, The Art and Technique of Color Photography (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1951), 144, and Color (Alexandria: Time-Life, 1978), 68. »
10     See Hill and Schwartz, Getting the Picture, Introduction. The exception especially has been the important work by Barbie Zelizer, Robert Hariman, and John Lucaites: Barbie Zelizer, About to Die: How News Images Move the Public (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010); Robert Hariman and John L. Lucaites, No Caption Needed: Iconic Photographs, Public Culture, and Liberal Democracy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011); Robert Hariman and John L. Lucaites, The Public Image: Photography and Civic Spectatorship (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016). »
11     Letter from Inge Bondi to Ernst Haas, May 18, 1954. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
12     Edward Steichen, introductory label, All Color Show, 1950, Museum of Modern Art, New York. »
13     Magnum Paris bureau chief to John Morris, March 3, 1957. Archive of John G. Morris. The memo also explains that the following morning Steichen’s wife, Dana Desboro Clover, died. »
14     In the 1965 show Haas had work from four of his essays, three in color. See Master Checklist, “The Photo Essay,” MoMA. https://www.moma.org/documents/moma_master-checklist_326377.pdf»
15     Robert H. Dumke,” The Development of Color Photography in Newspapers,” Image 6, no. 7 (1957): 161; “Newspaper in Color,” Fortune, July 1931, 32–39, 120–26.

Simultaneously, magazines promoted their image production values, so they are easier to assess in this first research phase. »
16     It is important to note how much this image resembles the opening credits of the film Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The umbrellas of Cherbourg, 1964). The filmmaker, Jacques Demy, was married to Agnès Varda, whose photography was also featured in the issue. »
17     Neil Harris, Cultural Excursions: Marketing Appetites and Cultural Tastes in Modern America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 320. »
18     Paul Outerbridge, US Camera, “About Color” column 34, December 18, 1956. ox 3, folder 4, Paul Outerbridge papers, 1915–79 (bulk 1915–58), Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Accession no. 870520. »
19     “War in China Gambles Asia’s Future,” Life, October 17, 1938, 28. »
20     Susan D. Moeller, Shooting War: Photography and the American Experience of Combat (New York: Basic, 1989), 390. »
21     “Color It Color,” Broadcasting, July 26, 1971, 7. See also Susan Murray, Bright Signals: A History of Color Television (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018). »
22     Réné Burri. Magnum Photos Collection, 1950–90, AG104, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. »
23     This is noted in a memo prepared by John Morris, Magnum and Its Markets, June 21, 1954 (New York, 12 pages). Magnum Photos Collection, 1950–90, AG104, 3, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. »
24     FYI, November 3, 1947. Box 530, Time-Life Inc. Archive, NYHS. »
25     Melissa Renn, “Life in Color: Life Magazine and the Color Reproduction of Works of Art,” in Bright Modernity: Color, Commerce, and Consumer Culture, ed. Regina Lee Blaszczyk and Uwe Spiekermann (Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 167–88. »
26     Timby, “Look at Those Lollipops!” 236–43. »
27     “Lecture at Rochester Institute of Technology in April 1986” as cited in Philip Prodger, “Another History of Color,” in William Ewing, ed., Ernst Haas: Color Correction (Göttingen: Steidl, 2011). »
28     Sally Stein, Harry Callahan: Photographs in Color/The Years 1946–1978 (Tucson: Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, 1980), 19. »
29     Henri Cartier-Bresson, The Decisive Moment (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1952), 48–52. »
30     Magnum Stockholder Report, February 15, 1952, prepared by Robert Capa. Magnum Photos Collection, 1950–90, AG104, 3, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. »
31     Magnum Stockholder Report»
32     Norton Wood, “Color in Sports Illustrated,” 1958, 3. Box 11, Wilson Hicks Conference Tapes and Transcripts Collection, 1957–73, Special Collections of the University of Miami Libraries. »
33     Pat Hagan to All Magnum Shareholders, “U.S. Editorial Progress and Plans,” May 29, 1952. Archive of John G. Morris. I am grateful for Nadya Bair for sharing this source. »
34     Bryan Campbell and Ernst Haas, Ernst Haas (London: Collins, 1983), 4; Ewing, Ernst Haas, n.p. »
35     Lynda Nead, The Tiger in the Smoke: Art and Culture in Postwar Britain (London: Yale University Press, 2017), devotes a section of her book to untangling the complexity of color in local and historically specific and in more metaphoric terms. »
36     Life, August 11, 1958. »
37     Life, August 11, 1958, 2. »
38     Life, August 11, 1958, 2. »
39     Life, August 18, 1958, 45. »
40     For general time and motion, see Marta Braun, Picturing Time: The Work of Etienne-Jules Marey (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994); Mary Ann Doane, The Emergence of Cinematic Time: Modernity, Contingency, the Archive (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002); Stephen Petersen, Space-Age Aesthetics: Lucio Fontana, Yves Klein, and the Postwar European Avant-Garde (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009); Jeffrey Schnapp, ed., Speed Limits (Milan: Skira, 2009); Linda Henderson, The Fourth Dimension and Non-Euclidean Geometry in Modern Art (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013). »
41     László Moholy-Nagy, Vision in Motion (Chicago: P. Theobald, 1947), 10; Oliver Botar, Sensing the Future: Moholy-Nagy, Media and the Arts (Baden: L. Müller, 2014); Achim Borchardt-Hume, ed., Albers and Moholy-Nagy: From the Bauhaus to the New World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006). »
42     László Moholy-Nagy et al., László Moholy-Nagy: Color in Transparency. Photographic Experiments in Color, 1934–1946 (Göttingen: Steidl, 2006), 39. »
43     Ernst Haas, “Haas on Color Photography,” Popular Photography, Color Annual, 1957, 30. »
44     “Letter to Magnum, 1960.” Notebooks of Ernst Haas 54, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
45     Yaacov Agam, “Syllabus of the Carpenter Center Course,” Harvard University, 1968. Centre Pompidou Library. »
46     “Letter to John Morris During South Africa Trip 1958, Magnum Letters—Early.” Notebooks of Ernst Haas, 48, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
47     Haas’s essay was published in Life on August 8, 1949, 30–31, and May 28, 1951, 124. »
48     “In and Out of Focus,” January 6, 1972, CAC 79:005. Casey Allen Collection, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. »
49     Letter from Ernst Haas to Wilson Hicks, November 30, 1949. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
50     Letter from Ernst Haas to Robert Capa, November 30, 1949. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
51     Haas’ lack of mastery of English is revealed in the archival materials consulted here. »
52     Ernst Haas, “Color vs. Black and White: The Reading of a Photograph,” panel, 1968, 3–4. Box 11, Wilson Hicks, University of Miami Libraries. »
53     Ernst Haas, “What I’ve Been Up to Lately,” 1967, 9. Box 11, Wilson Hicks, University of Miami Libraries. »
54     New York Times, September 14, 1953. »
55     Quoted from the script for “Sight and Insight,” Ernst Haas: The Art of Seeing, Part 1 (PBS in cooperation with the BBC, 1962), 5. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
56     “Poet of the Streets,” FYI, September 18, 1953. Box 338, Folder 3, Time-Life Inc., NYHS. »
57     Bryan Holme and Thomas Forman, eds., Poet’s Camera (New York: American Studio, 1946), preface. »
58     “Poet of the Streets,” FYI, September 18, 1953. Box 338, Folder 3, Time-Life Inc., NYHS. »
59     FYI, September 1953, “Images of a Magic City,” Part II. Box 532, Time-Life Inc., NYHS. »
60     Ernst Haas, cable to Life New York concerning Paris story, n.d. (probably 1955). Notebooks of Ernst Haas, 25, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
61     Undated letter from MHS (probably Margot Shore) to Magnum NY office, signed “Miss Busyfingers,” circa 1955. Magnum box, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
62     Magnum Paris bureau chief to John Morris, memo, April 19, 1957. Archive of John G. Morris. »
63     Magnum Newsletter (draft), December 7, 1955. Archive of John G. Morris. »
64     Script, “Sight and Insight,” Part 1, 2, 4. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. The four episodes were titled “Sight and Insight,” “The Decisive Moment,” “Stretching the Moment,” and “Beyond Reality.” »
65     It was precisely the exploitation of color television that led the BBC to sign Kenneth Clark to narrate and write what become a game-changing series, Civilisation, for the BBC in 1969. In two later episodes of “In and Out of Focus,” a WNYC show, both broadcast in the 1970s in color, Haas is introduced as “the world’s greatest color photographer,” CAC 79:055. Casey Allen Collection, Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson. »
66     Bair, Decisive Network»
67     Script, “The Decisive Moment,” Part 2, Ernst Haas: The Art of Seeing (PBS in cooperation with the BBC, 1962), 7. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. For more on the relation between the artist and the reporter, see Hill, Artist as Reporter»
68     Kate Flint, Flash! Photography, Writing, and Surprising Illumination (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017). See also Jason E. Hill, “Sight After Sight: Life’s Time,” unpublished paper. »
69     Phyllis Lee Levin, “Fantasy Marks the Work of Fashion Photography,” New York Times, April 5, 1957. »
70     Arthur Knight, “Choreography for Camera,” Dance Magazine 22, no. 6 (June 1970): 21. »
71     Richard Avedon, “Time for Motion . . . the Fourth Dimension,” Commercial Camera 2, no. 2 (1949): 9. »
72     Campbell and Haas, Ernst Haas, 4. »
73     Ruth A. Peltason, ed., Ernst Haas Color Photography (New York: Abrams, 1989), 13. »
74     “Motion.” Notebooks of Ernst Haas, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
75     “Story from Magnum: Ernst Haas at Barnum Circus,” October 6, 1961. Job Books, Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
76     U.S. Camera 28, no. 12 (December 1961): 50. »
77     Kim Beil, “Vision Control: The Inversion of Motion Blur and the Thrills of Speed on the Page,” unpublished manuscript, to appear in a forthcoming book with Stanford University Press. I would like to thank the author for sharing her work with me. »
78     Life, July 29, 1957, 57. »
79     Life, August 19, 1957, 12. »
80     MoMA Press Release, “Ernst Haas—Color Photography,” August 4, 1962. https://www.moma.org/documents/moma_press-release_326283.pdf»
81     As cited in Inge Bondi, critique of Haas to Fritz Semak, unpublished manuscript on Ernst Haas, 228. Thanks to Bondi for sharing her unpublished work with me. »
82     Peltason, Ernst Haas Color Photography, 13–14. »
83     MoMA Press Release, “Art in a Changing World,” May 27, 1964. https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/3448?locale=en»
84     MoMA Press Release, “The Photo Essay” March 16, 1965. https://www.moma.org/documents/moma_press-release_326378.pdf»
85     Ernst Haas, “Ernst Haas on Color Photography,” Popular Photography, Color Annual (1957): 30. »
86     Ernst Haas, “What I’ve Been Up to Lately,” 1967, 29, 9. Box 11, Wilson Hicks Conference Tapes and Transcripts Collection, 1957–1973, Special Collections of the University of Miami Libraries. »
87     Alain Bergala and Magnum Photos Inc., Magnum Cinema: Photographs from 50 Years of Movie-Making (London: Phaidon, 1995). »
88     For more on Haas movie set photographs, see Walter Moser, Ernst Haas Cinéma, ed. John P. Jacob (Göttingen: Steidl, 2014). »
89     Marianne Le Gaillard, “Jacques Henri Lartigue dans l’air du temps (1966–1967). Entre la naissance et la consecration veritable de sa photographie,” Etudes photographiques (Spring 2015): 64–84. »
90     Telegram from John Huston to Ernst Haas, July 14, 1964. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
91     Henry Hart, “The Bible,” Films in Review 17, no. 8 (October 1966): 518. »
92     Notebooks of Ernst Haas, 15. Ernst Haas Archive, Getty Images, London. »
Chapter 4. Ernst Haas and the Blurring of Color in Motion
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