Sunday, 27 May 2012

Considerations on Colour

A few years ago I was interested in getting some images of water droplets on leaves and discovered one particular photograph by Ernst Haas (1921 – 1986).  This particular image was from ‘The Creation Portfolio’ and was entitled ‘Vermont,1969’ and I thought no more about it, or indeed who Hass was, until researching the theme of colour for this course, when he was rediscovered.  I had hoped to have a theme for each of the assignments for assessment, and much as I had used the London images for ‘Elements of Design’, I am considering using Haas as a potential theme for part of the ‘Colour’ assignment, although I do accept that saturation is not suited to all elements of what I need to achieve.
Ernst Haas was one of the original Magnum (see link in side bar) photographers and was invited to join the agency by Robert Capa as a result of his images of prisoners of war returning home to his native Vienna in 1947 taken when he was staff photographer for the Heute magazine in Austria.  Haas was one of the pioneers of colour photography, making his first colour images in 1949, and published the first colour photo essay about life in New York in Time magazine in 1953. This led to further commissions to produce similar works on Paris and Venice and he was voted one of the world’s top ten photographers in 1958. He was especially noted for his highly saturated colour images taken in natural light - just search Haas in Google Images to get a page full of the most vibrant colour - with prints produced by the dye transfer process, and for his bravery in producing deliberately blurred and out of focus photographs.  He also pioneered extreme cropping of images, shooting into the light and the imaginative use of reflections as a photographic device.
Before his death in 1986, Haas had been working on a book of his work, but it was his children and colleagues who produced the book 'A Colour Retrospective 1952-1986' which was published in 1989 and gave a broad and profound insight into his approach and philosophy of photography.

Edward Steichen wrote of Haas, “In my estimation we have experienced an epoch in photography. Here is a free spirit, untrammeled by tradition and theory, who has gone out and found beauty unparalleled in photography.”

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