Dali Atomicus

Accession Number

Dali Atomicus

Philippe Halsman

Artist Nationality
American (North American)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
gelatin silver print on paper

11 in x 14 in (27.94 cm x 35.56 cm);18 1/8 in x 22 1/8 in (46.04 cm x 56.2 cm)

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Subject matter
This photograph was conceived by Halsman and Dali in order to illustrate photography's ability to depict surrealist scenes, and to promote Dali's own work. On the left, a painting by Dali Leda Atomica sits on an easel. This painting inspired the photograph; as Dali stated, "in an atom everything is in suspension," referencing not only the title of the prior painted work, but the suspension of objects in the current photograph and its title. This photograph took five to six hours to produce, as it was difficult to get the timing of the jump, the cats, and other scenery precisely as Halsman envisioned it. It took twenty-six tries to get the perfect image. When this photograph was published in Life, outtakes were included alongside the final image. 

The scenery in the photograph was suspended with wire, while Yvonne Halsman held the chair on the right side of the image. Three assistants each held a cat, while a fourth held a bucket filled with water. The painting that Dali jumps in front of was created after the shot was taken. In the final painting, the cat forms are almost identical to those pictured in the photograph flying across the painting.

Physical Description
A studio image of artist Salvador Dali in a surrealistic scene. Dali jumps in the air as furniture hovers around him, and three cats fly into a stream of water that splashes across the scene.

Primary Object Classification

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
Felis domesticus (species)
artists (visual artists)
chairs (furniture forms)
easel painting (image-making)
human figures (visual works)
modern and contemporary art
stools (seating furniture)
water (inorganic material)

& Author Notes

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