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  • Writer's pictureCharles Cherney

144: Photography of Ernst Haas

In 2022, my interest in photography resurfaced and caught fire. I am thrilled to have come across the photography of Ernst Haas.

As Wikipedia notes, Ernst Haas (1921 – 1986) was an Austrian-American photojournalist and color photographer. During his 40-year career, Haas bridged the gap between photojournalism and the use of photography as a medium for expression and creativity. In addition to his coverage of events around the globe after World War II, Haas was an early innovator in color photography. His images were disseminated by magazines like Life and Vogue and, in 1962, were the subject of the first single-artist exhibition of color photography at New York's Museum of Modern Art. He served as president of the cooperative Magnum Photos, and his book The Creation (1971) was one of the most successful photography books ever, selling 350,000 copies.

I myself received Ernst Haas: New York in Color 1952 – 1962 as a birthday gift in December. As the title makes known, this is a beautiful book of Haas' color photography in NYC.

If you don't know Haas' work, you are in for a treat when you absorb his photographs here:

There is a both a timeless quality and a painterliness to Haas' photographs, especially his color photos in the United States. Absorbing his work in the slide show above is, for me at least, a spiritual experience. For sure, Haas' photographs taken on the street are more than street photography. Truly, his work is art of the highest order. Taking in Haas's photographs via the large scale slide show above (complete with a moody soundtrack) is in many ways even more immersive than sitting with a book featuring his work. And the magic of the internet means many of his images are readily accessible to all – for free. If you wish to learn more about Ernst Haas, check out T. Hopper's video about him below:

Ernst Haas makes me grateful to be alive. The artistry in his work is perhaps the best example I know of a favorite maxim: "Outside lies magic." Haas somehow captures such magic in his photographs, thereby affording all of us a chance to experience it for ourselves. Magical.


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