Thursday 2 April 2009

Dali Atomicus Incorporated Three Flying Cats

Dali Atomicus by Salvidor Dali and Philippe Halsman
Dali Atomicus Incorporated Three Flying Cats

This very famous photograph incorporates three flying cats and is by the very well know photographer Philippe Halsman (2 May 1906 Riga, Latvia - 25 June 1979 New York City). He is described as a portrait photographer by the Wikipedia author. As I remember he also took dramatic fashion photographs. He was a fine technician, setting up his photographs meticulously.

Now cats interest me! This is the main website: Pictures of I tend to get a bit upset when I see cats thrown through the air for the sake of "art", albeit (for me) very good art indeed. I like Salvador Dali's work and the work of Mr Halsman but I don't like seeing three flying cats, at a considerable height, especially when it took 28 takes to get things right. This photograph was the result of a collaboration between these two artists that lasted many years, I understand.

Please note that the large heading picture is an unretouched photo. The final version is the smaller picture to the right of this page.

You can see the person (Halsman's wife, I believe) holding the chair on the left and the strings holding up the easel and painting, for example. The concept was to explore idea of suspension. Halsman also became well known for jumping pictures, another form of suspension. He produced a book of 178 photographs of celebrities jumping. He felt (correctly) that in jumping a person's mask is thrown away as he or she is concentrating on jumping successfully for the camera.

Back to those cats! They were thrown with the water. Remember this was well before CGI (computer graphic images). It was all manual and natural. It looks to me as if the top cat was in a bucket of water and thrown with the water, while the other two were thrown by someone else from a dry start! Cats have wonderful self-righting abilities as we know but this looks a bit brutal to me. I would expect the cats to have been alright, however.

The water takes an interesting route and the picture in the easel was retouched in.

Dali Atomicus Incorporated Three Flying Cats to Home Page

Dali Atomicus Incorporated Three Flying Cats - the photos are in the public domain in the EU and America and other countries because copyright was not renewed. The top picture was downloaded from Wikimedia - user: Trialsanderrors and the lower final finished version is from Flickr (presume also copyright free) by

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