From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This article is about Ernst Haas, the
photographer. For Ernst B. Haas, the American political scientist,
see Ernst B.
Cover of Ernst Haas' photo book, The Creation
Ernst Haas (March 2, 1921, Vienna – September
12, 1986, New York) was an artist and influential photographer noted
for his innovations in color photography, experiments in
abstract light and form, and as a member of the Magnum Photos
Born in Vienna, Austria, Haas attended medical
school in Austria, but, in 1947, left to become a staff
photographer for the magazine Heute. His photo essay for the magazine on
prisoners of war coming home to Vienna won him acclaim and an offer
to join Magnum Photos from Robert Capa. Haas and Werner Bischof
were the first photographers invited to join Magnum by the founders
Capa, David "Chim"
Seymour, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and
Haas moved to New York City and in 1953 produced a 24-page,
color photo essay on the city for Life, which then commissioned
similar photo spreads on Paris
and Venice. In 1962, the Museum of
Modern Art mounted a one-man show of Haas' color photos. Haas'
first photo book, Elements, was published the next
Some of Haas' most famous pictures were deliberately
out-of-focus and blurred, creating strong visual effects. He used
the dye transfer process to make many of his
original prints, yielding richly saturated colours.
In 1964, film director John Huston hired Haas to direct the
creation sequence for Huston's 1964 film, The Bible. Haas
continued working on the theme, producing the photo book, The
1971. Other photography books by Haas included In America
in 1975, a tribute to his adopted country for its bicentennial
year; Deutschland in 1977; and Himalayan
Pilgrimage in 1978. Other films that Haas worked on included
Misfits in 1961, Hello, Dolly! in 1969, Little Big
Man in 1970, and Heaven's Gate in 1980. Haas
also photographed a number of advertising campaigns for Marlboro cigarettes.
In 1986, Haas received the Hasselblad Award for his photography.
Haas died in New
- 1921 Born on March 2 in Vienna, Austria second son of Frederika
and Ernst Haas, a high official in the Austrian government.  His
mother, inspired by the arts, encourages him from early childhood
to pursue creative endeavors. She maintains a lifelong
correspondence with him, mainly about artistic and aesthetic
aspects of life. His older brother and best friend Fritz is
supportive and sympathetic.
- 1935-39 Attends high school at the LEH Grinzing in Vienna from
1935 to1938, when it closed due to the invasion of Austria by
Germany. Receives diploma from the Rainier Gymnasium, Vienna
- 1940 Father dies. Begins printing from old negatives.
Studies medicine but is prohibited from continuing due to Jewish
- 1941 Enter the Graphische Lehr und Versuchsanstalt (Graphic
Arts Institute) in Vienna to study photography but leaves after one
semester. Shoots photographs for the Reinhardt film seminar in
- 1943-45 Works on and off in photographic studio in Vienna.
Makes his first abstract photographs. Teaches photography at the American Red
Cross. In their library he discovers The Poet’s Camera, edited
by Bryan Holme, which influences him on poetry in photography. In
this book he sees photographs by Edward Weston whose ability to
transform an object from the real to the unreal profoundly affects
- 1946 Acquires his first camera, a Rolleiflex, on the black
market with 10 kilograms of margarine received for his 25th
birthday. Travels to Switzerland to meet Arnold Kubler, editor of
DU magazine, where he is exposed to the photography of Werner
Bischof. Bischof later becomes a close friend and associate at
- 1947 Inge Morath
discovered Haas’ work and showed it to Warren Trabant, editor of
HEUTE in Munich.
- 1949 Begins work for HEUTE with correspondent Inge Morath.
First feature article on Viennese homecoming prisoners is published
in HEUTE and later picked up by LIFE. On the basis of this story,
Wilson Hicks picture editor of LIFE, offers him a job as staff
photographer which he declines. At the invitation of Robert Capa,
he joins Magnum, which he believes will offer him independence as a
photographer. Also becomes a shareholder in Magnum. During this
time he develops close associations with Capa, Bischof, and Henri
Cartier-Bresson. In particular Capa encourages him to pursue his
own vision. Begins shooting with a Leica and experimenting with the
first color films.
- 1951 Marries the Countess Antoinette Wenckheim. Visits the
United States for the first time on assignment from Robert Capa.
Appointed vice president of Magnum’s American operations.
- 1952 Hitchhikes throughout New Mexico working on “Land of
Enchantment” for LIFE, inspired by his childhood fascination with
the Southwest and American Indians.
- 1953 LIFE publishes its first major color essay, Images of a
Magic City” (New York). Travels to Asia to cover the Vietnam War.
Free-lance stories included in LIFE, LOOK, VOGUE, and HOLIDAY.
- 1953-54 In his personal letters begins to question
photojournalism assignments, the conflict between editors and
photographers, and what he hopes to achieve in life.
- 1954 Robert Capa and Werner Bischof are killed while on
assignment. Upon their death becomes a member of the Board of
Directors at Magnum.
- 1955 Travels to Indonesia.
- 1955-56 Photo-essays published in LIFE include “land of
Tranquility” (South Africa, 1954). “The Glow of Paris” (1955), and
“Mirror of Venice” (1956). Shoots movie stills for LAND OF THE
PHARAOHS (1954), MOBY DICK (1956), and THE PRIDE AND THE PASSION
- 1957 LIFE publishes “Beauty in the Brutal Art,” photographs of
the bullfight in Spain. Marks the beginning of his motion studies
and the first time this type of color photography is published.
Serves as Member of the Executive Committee at Magnum.
- 1958 Featured in POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY article, “The World’s 10
Greatest Photographers.” LIFE publishes “The Magic of Color in
Motion,” an essay that explores the possibilities of mixing colors
by using slow shutter speeds. Described as “painting with the
camera” by critics.
- 1959 Elected president of Magnum. Edits and designs the
exhibition “The World as Seen by Magnum Photographers.”Begins
assignment for General Dynamics. Travels to Norway for
- 1960 Shoots movie stills for THE MISFITS. Takes a series of
motion photographs for the Lincoln Center Ballet, New York, from
which a movie is made. Photographs the Olympics for LIFE. Takes up
residency in New York and opens his first studio on East 71st
- 1962 Travels to Greece for HOLIDAY, England for QUEEN,
Argentina to shoot movie stills for TARAS BULBA, and Tennessee to
photograph a story on James Agee for LIFE.Solo exhibition at the
MOMA.PBS commissions The Art of Seeing" a four installment feature
written by Haas, with Haas featured as the Raconteur.
- 1963 Travels with Henri Cartier-Bresson to Mexico on assignment
for the Mexican government tourist bureau.Embarks on a landmark
advertising campaign for Volkswagen with art director Rolf
- 1964 Works as second director for the movie THE BIBLE, produced
by Dino de Laurentis, with John Huston as director. Responsible for
the photography on “the Creation” section, the beginning of his
photographic interpretation of Genesis. This movie takes him to the
Galapagos Islands, Iceland, and Italy.
- 1965 Moves to studio on Seventh Avenue, where he lives for the
remainder of his life.
- 1966 Changes Magnum status to contributing photographer.
- 1967 Slide presentation of creation photographs is shown at
Eleventh Miami Conference of Photojournalists. Photographs in
Monument Valley for HOLIDAY.
- 1968 Travels to India upon invitation from the government,
where he observes the plight of the Tibetan refugees and becomes
fascinated by Buddhism and mysticism of the Himalaya.
- 1969 Shoots movie stills for LITTLE BIG MAN. Prepares
photo-essays for HOLIDAY and ESQUIRE on American Indians.
- 1970 Travels to Kenya to photograph animals for his book THE
- 1971 Publishes first edition of THE CREATION (Viking), which
would eventually sell over 350,000 copies. Excerpts are printed in
major photographic magazines. Photographs the Grand Canyon and the
Southwest for Time-Life Books.
- 1972-74 First assignment for Marlboro cigarettes, an account
that would continue for twelve years. Invited to The Maine
Photographic Workshops, the beginning of a long involvement
teaching workshops throughout the world. Photographs extensively in
Germany for an upcoming book on that country. In 1972 travels to
Rajasthan, India, for STERN and to Sikkim; Darjeeling; travels to
Dharmsala in 1973. The Smithsonian Institution
sponsors his trip to Bhutan to cover the coronation (1974).
- Early 1970’s Begins working on audio-visuals with a dissolve
unit and music in an effort to transform the still image into
another form of expression.
- 1975 Photographs extensively in Venice for the Time-Life Books
Series THE GREAT CITIES. Publishes his second book, IN AMERICA
(Viking). Travels to Ladakh for GEO.
- 1976 Publishes in DEUTSCHLAND. American editions, IN GERMANY,
published 1977 (Viking). Travels to Nepal for his upcoming book on
- 1977 Eastman Kodak Company produces an 18x60 feet print of
“Impalas Grazing” at Grand Central Station in New York. Until then,
the largest color print ever produced.
- 1978 Publishes HIMALAYAN PILGRIMAGE (Viking), with text by
- 1979 Participates in Venezia’70. La Fotografia: teaches a
workshop, exhibits his photographs, and gives audio-visual
presentations on Venice and Abstracts. Covers the Jazz Festival and
Mardi Gras in New Orleans for GEO.
- 1980 Publishes “The Creation,” a limited-edition portfolio of
dye transfer prints with Daniel Wolf Press. Travels to Japan for
Fujitsu Limited. Begins working on book devoted to that country
with Takiko Kawai. Photographs the Lake Placid Winter Olympics.
Begins a project illustrating the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke,
whose writing inspired him throughout his life.
- 1980-81 Creates the educational audio-visual, “To Dream with
Open Eyes,” and “Expanding Photographic Vision: The Sight and
Insight of Ernst Haas” produced by the Media Loft, Inc. Shoots
movie stills for QUEST FOR FIRE and HEAVEN’S GATE in 1981.
- 1982 Mother dies in Vienna.
- 1983 Produces audio-visual “Flower show” for the St. Louis
Arboretum. Publishes ”Flowers,” his second limited-edition
portfolio of dye transfer prints. Publishes revised edition of THE
- 1984 Photographs the Summer Olympics in Los Angeles for a
Chrysler Corporation advertising campaign. Travels to Japan for a
workshop and photographs extensively for his upcoming book.
- 1985 “Focus on New Zealand” trip sponsored by New Zealand
Center for Photography and the Brooks Institute in Santa
- 1986 Completes his last audio-visual slide show,
“Abstracts.”Participates in the Ansel Adams Workshop in Yosemite.
At the First International Photography Congress in Rockport, Maine,
conducts the opening and closing ceremonies stressing the
importance of poetry in photography. “Abstract” audio-visual show
presented in its most complete form. Dies of a stroke on September
12 in New York.
- 1987 ASMP establishes the Ernst Haas Award for Creative
Photography as part of its annual awards.
- 1988 The Maine Photographic Workshops awards The Ernst Haas
Photographers Grant, funded by an Anonymous Donor.
- 1998 The Ernst Haas Studio’s entire archive is sent to London
and housed at the Hulton Getty Picture Library as part of a
licensing agreement with Getty Images.
- 1999 The Ernst Haas Memorial Collection is established at
Portland Museum of Art, Maine.
The Creation by Ernst Haas - Random House Revised edition (May
1985) ISBN 0517468948
information obtained from "Ernst Haas Estate" website