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Leaping for the Stars

Photographer Philippe Halsman's 'Jump' series goes on show for the first time in Russia

Surrealist painter Salvador Dali was one of 50 movie stars, actors, artists and celebrities who posed for Halsman for his 'Jump' series. Philippe Halsman / Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center

Photographer Philippe Halsman is perhaps best known for his 'Jump' project, a series of playful pictures taken in the 1950s in which he coaxed 20th-century celebrities into revealing their true nature by asking them to jump for the camera.

“I was motivated by a genuine curiosity. After all, life has taught us to control and disguise our facial expressions, but it has not taught us to control our jumps. I wanted to see famous people reveal in a jump their ambition or their lack of it, their self-importance or their insecurity, and many other traits,” he said.

Now on show at the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center as part of the 10th Moscow Fashion and Style in Photography International Biennale, the series is being exhibited in Russia for the very first time.

An important figure in U.S. post-war photography, Riga-born Halsman's portraits of actors, politicians, intellectuals and artists graced over 100 covers of LIFE magazine and also featured in publications such as Look, Esquire, and Paris Match.

Visitors to the Moscow exhibition can see all 50 photographs in the 'Jump' series, including off-kilter portraits of stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly, Marc Chagall, Muhammad Ali, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor - as well as "Atomicus," Halsman's famous work featuring Salvador Dali.

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