Ernst Haas

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Cover of Ernst Haas' photo book, The Creation.

Ernst Haas (March 2, 1921September 12, 1986) was an artist and influential photographer noted for his innovations in color photography, experiments in abstract light and form, and as a member of the Magnum Photos agency. The Estate of Ernst Haas is represented by Bruce Silverstein Gallery New York, NY.


[edit] Photography career

Born in Vienna, Austria, Haas attended medical school in Austria, but, in 1947, left to become a staff photographer for the magazine Heute. His photo essay for the magazine on prisoners of war coming home to Vienna won him acclaim and an offer to join Magnum Photos from Robert Capa. Haas and Werner Bischof were the first photographers invited to join Magnum by the founders Capa, David "Chim" Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and Bill Vandivert.

Cover of Life

Haas moved to New York City and in 1953 produced a 24-page, color photo essay on the city for Life, which then commissioned similar photo spreads on Paris and Venice. In 1962, the Museum of Modern Art mounted a one-man show of Haas' color photos. Haas' first photo book, Elements, was published the next year.

Some of Haas' most famous pictures were deliberately out-of-focus and blurred, creating strong visual effects.

In 1964, film director John Huston hired Haas to direct the creation sequence for Huston's 1964 film, The Bible. Haas continued working on the theme, producing the photo book, The Creation in 1971. Other photography books by Haas included In America in 1975, a tribute to his adopted country for its bicentennial year; Deutschland in 1977; and Himalayan Pilgrimage in 1978. Other films that Haas worked on included The Misfits in 1961, Hello, Dolly! in 1969, Little Big Man in 1970, and Heaven's Gate in 1980. Haas also photographed a number of advertising campaigns for Marlboro cigarettes.

In 1986, Haas received the Hasselblad Award for his photography. Haas died in New York City.

[edit] Chronology

The Big Country

  • 1921 Born on March 2 in Vienna, Austria second son of Frederika and Ernst Haas, a high official in the Austrian government. [1] His mother, inspired by the arts, encourages him from early childhood to pursue creative endeavors. She maintains a lifelong correspondence with him, mainly about artistic and aesthetic aspects of life. His older brother and best friend Fritz is supportive and sympathetic.
  • 1935-39 Attends high school at the LEH Grinzing in Vienna from 1935 to1938, when it closed due to the invasion of Austria by Germany. Receives diploma from the Rainier Gymnasium, Vienna 1939.
  • 1940 Father dies. Begins printing from old negatives.

Studies medicine but is prohibited from continuing due to Jewish ancestry.

  • 1941 Enter the Graphische Lehr und Versuchsanstalt (Graphic Arts Institute) in Vienna to study photography but leaves after one semester. Shoots photographs for the Reinhardt film seminar in Berlin.
  • 1943-45 Works on and off in photographic studio in Vienna. Makes his first abstract photographs. Teaches photography at the American Red Cross. In their library he discovers The Poet’s Camera, edited by Bryan Holme, which influences him on poetry in photography. In this book he sees photographs by Edward Weston whose ability to transform an object from the real to the unreal profoundly affects him.
  • 1946 Acquires his first camera, a Rolleiflex, on the black market with 10 kilograms of margarine received for his 25th birthday. Travels to Switzerland to meet Arnold Kubler, editor of DU magazine, where he is exposed to the photography of Werner Bischof. Bischof later becomes a close friend and associate at Magnum.
  • 1947 Inge Morath discoverd Haas’ work and showed it to Warren Trabant, editor of HEUTE in Munich.
  • 1949 Begins work for HEUTE with correspondent Inge Morath. First feature article on Viennese homecoming prisoners is published in HEUTE and later picked up by LIFE. On the basis of this story, Wilson Hicks picture editor of LIFE, offers him a job as staff photographer which he declines. At the invitation of Robert Capa, he joins Magnum, which he believes will offer him independence as a photographer. Also becomes a shareholder in Magnum. During this time he develops close associations with Capa, Bischof, and Henri Cartier-Bresson. In particular Capa encourages him to pursue his own vision. Begins shooting with a Leica and experimenting with the first color films.
  • 1951 Marries the Countess Antoinette Wenckheim. Visits the United States for the first time on assignment from Robert Capa. Appointed vice president of Magnum’s American operations.
  • 1952 Hitchhikes throughout New Mexico working on “Land of Enchantment” for LIFE, inspired by his childhood fascination with the Southwest and American Indians.
  • 1953 LIFE publishes its first major color essay, Images of a Magic City” (New York). Travels to Asia to cover the Vietnam War. Free-lance stories included in LIFE, LOOK, VOGUE, and HOLIDAY.
  • 1953-54 In his personal letters begins to question photojournalism assignments, the conflict between editors and photographers, and what he hopes to achieve in life.
  • 1954 Robert Capa and Werner Bischof are killed while on assignment. Upon their death becomes a member of the Board of Directors at Magnum.
  • 1955 Travels to Indonesia.
  • 1955-56 Photo-essays published in LIFE include “land of Tranquility” (South Africa, 1954). “The Glow of Paris” (1955), and “Mirror of Venice” (1956). Shoots movie stills for LAND OF THE PHARAOHS (1954), MOBY DICK (1956), and THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION (1956).
  • 1957 LIFE publishes “Beauty in the Brutal Art,” photographs of the bullfight in Spain. Marks the beginning of his motion studies and the first time this type of color photography is published. Serves as Member of the Executive Committee at Magnum.
  • 1958 Featured in POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY article, “The World’s 10 Greatest Photographers.” LIFE publishes “The Magic of Color in Motion,” an essay that explores the possibilities of mixing colors by using slow shutter speeds. Described as “painting with the camera” by critics.
  • 1959 Elected president of Magnum. Edits and designs the exhibition “The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers.”Begins assignment for General Dynamics. Travels to Norway for HOLIDAY.
  • 1960 Shoots movie stills for THE MISFITS. Takes a series of motion photographs for the Lincoln Center Ballet, New York, from which a movie is made. Photographs the Olympics for LIFE. Takes up residency in New York and opens his first studio on East 71st Street.
  • 1962 Travels to Greece for HOLIDAY, England for QUEEN, Argentina to shoot movie stills for TARAS BULBA, and Tennessee to photograph a story on James Agee for LIFE.Solo exhibition at the MOMA.PBS commissions The Art of Seeing" a four installment feature written by Haas, with Haas featured as the Raconteur.
  • 1963 Travels with Henri Cartier-Bresson to Mexico on assignment for the Mexican government tourist bureau.Embarks on a landmark advertising campaign for Volkswagen with art director Rolf Gilhausen.
  • 1964 Works as second director for the movie THE BIBLE, produced by Dino de Laurentis, with John Huston as director. Responsible for the photography on “the Creation” section, the beginning of his photographic interpretation of Genesis. This movie takes him to the Galapagos Islands, Iceland, and Italy.
  • 1965 Moves to studio on Seventh Avenue, where he lives for the remainder of his life.
  • 1966 Changes Magnum status to contributing photographer.
  • 1967 Slide presentation of creation photographs is shown at Eleventh Miami Conference of Photojournalists. Photographs in Monument Valley for HOLIDAY.
  • 1968 Travels to India upon invitation from the government, where he observes the plight of the Tibetan refugees and becomes fascinated by Buddhism and mysticism of the Himalaya.
  • 1969 Shoots movie stills for LITTLE BIG MAN. Prepares photo-essays for HOLIDAY and ESQUIRE on American Indians.
  • 1970 Travels to Kenya to photograph animals for his book THE CREATION.
  • 1971 Publishes first edition of THE CREATION (Viking), which would eventually sell over 350,000 copies. Excerpts are printed in major photographic magazines. Photographs the Grand Canyon and the Southwest for Time-Life Books.
  • 1972-74 First assignment for Marlboro cigarettes, an account that would continue for twelve years. Invited to The Maine Photographic Workshops, the beginning of a long involvement teaching workshops throughout the world. Photographs extensively in Germany for an upcoming book on that country. In 1972 travels to Rajasthan, India, for STERN and to Sikkim; Darjeeling; travels to Dharmsala in 1973. The Smithsonian Institute sponsors his trip to Bhutan to cover the coronation (1974).
  • Early 1970’s Begins working on audio-visuals with a dissolve unit and music in an effort to transform the still image into another form of expression.
  • 1975 Photographs extensively in Venice for the Time-Life Books Series THE GREAT CITIES. Publishes his second book, IN AMERICA (Viking). Travels to Ladakh for GEO.
  • 1976 Publishes in DEUTSCHLAND. American editions, IN GERMANY, published 1977 (Viking). Travels to Nepal for his upcoming book on the Himalaya.
  • 1977 Eastman Kodak Company produces an 18x60 feet print of “Impalas Grazing” at Grand Central Station in New York. Until then, the largest color print ever produced.
  • 1978 Publishes HIMALAYAN PILGRIMAGE (Viking), with text by Gisela Minke.
  • 1979 Participates in Venezia’70. La Fotografia: teaches a workshop, exhibits his photographs, and gives audio-visual presentations on Venice and Abstracts. Covers the Jazz Festival and Mardi Gras in New Orleans for GEO.
  • 1980 Publishes “The Creation,” a limited-edition portfolio of dye transfer prints with Daniel Wolf Press. Travels to Japan for Fujitsu Limited. Begins working on book devoted to that country with Takiko Kawai. Photographs the Lake Placid Winter Olympics. Begins a project illustrating the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, whose writing inspired him throughout his life.
  • 1980-81 Creates the educational audio-visual, “To Dream with Open Eyes,” and “Expanding Photographic Vision: The Sight and Insight of Ernst Haas” produced by the Media Loft, Inc. Shoots movie stills for QUEST FOR FIRE and HEAVEN’S GATE in 1981.
  • 1982 Mother dies in Vienna.
  • 1983 Produces audio-visual “Flower show” for the St. Louis Arboretum. Publishes ”Flowers,” his second limited-edition portfolio of dye transfer prints. Publishes revised edition of THE CREATION (Viking).
  • 1984 Photographs the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles for a Chrysler Corporation advertising campaign. Travels to Japan for a workshop and photographs extensively for his upcoming book.
  • 1985 “Focus on New Zealand” trip sponsored by New Zealand Center for Photography and the Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara.
  • 1986 Completes his last audio-visual slide show, “Abstracts.”Participates in the Ansel Adams Workshop in Yosemite. At the First International Photography Congress in Rockport, Maine, conducts the opening and closing ceremonies stressing the importance of poetry in photography. “Abstract” audio-visual show presented in its most complete form. Dies of a stroke on September 12 in New York.
  • 1987 ASMP establishes the Ernst Haas Award for Creative Photography as part of its annual awards.
  • 1988 The Maine Photographic Workshops awards The Ernst Haas Photographers Grant, funded by an Anonymous Donor.
  • 1998 The Ernst Haas Studio’s entire archive is sent to London and housed at the Hulton Getty Picture Library as part of a licensing agreement with Getty Images.
  • 1999 The Ernst Haas Memorial Collection is established at Portland Museum of Art, Maine.

[edit] References

  1. ^ Chronological information obtained from "Ernst Haas Estate" website

[edit] External links

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