Dali Atomicus

In an age when Photoshop was not around, there came out a world-famous photograph of Salvador Dali that seems nigh impossible to have without graphic imaging! The Dali Atomicus (1948). The photograph is of Dali, suspended midair, along with a few cats and water!


Photographer Philippe Halsman carried out the arduous job of clicking such a photograph with clever arrangement and movement of the elements in it. The title of the photograph was derived from the Leda Atomicus , a painting, which is placed on the right in the photograph. Apparently Halsman took 28 attempts at clicking the photograph before getting the perfect shot, with Dali’s maniacal grin and all the elements suspended in midair.

If one looks at the unretouched version of the photograph, one can see the hidden elements in it. Much like a clever illusionist at play, Halsman uses these elements to perfection.


For one, one can clearly see the hand of the assistant holding up the chair. Secondly, one can see the prop for holding up the footstool. Thirdly, the painting frame to Dali’s side is empty. Lastly, one can see the wires used to suspend the easel and the painting.

Apparently the shoot started with Yvonne Halsman, Philippe’s wife, holding up the chair. Assistants throw cats from the right and a pail of water from the left.  Dali jumps. Philippe clicks. Simple, right? Not quite. The perfectionist in Halsman had Dali jumping for a period spanning six hours till he got it right.

Photoshop could have spared Dali all the trouble!


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