Date of publication: 2017-07-08 21:35
Haas traveled throughout the world on assignments for magazines, books, movie coverage, advertising and industry. Everywhere he went, he would seek out sacred sites and rites, from the dances of American Indians, to the Miracle(?) in Greece, to Holy Year in Rome, to the temples of Angkor Wat and Borobudur, the shrines of India, Tibet, Bhutan and Japan. In his art he often transformed throwaway objects into sacred symbols, as in the photograph with which he identified most: commonly identified as a crucifix, it was a simple pair of underpants lost in the road somewhere in California. Haas said on this subject:
We submitted these photos to Mechanical Turk again, asking three "master workers" (. more skilled workers) not only to verify that a photo shows a single selfie, but also to guess the age and gender of the person.
Concerning the conceptual leap involved in his own transition to color, he stated, Black & white as a subtraction had to be transformed into an abstraction in color. I still respect both forms... But having the possibility to express a world in color through color, I was searching for a composition in which color became much more than just a colored black & white picture.
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....
The color in color photography has often seemed an irrelevant decorative screen between the viewer and the fact of the picture. Ernst Haas has resolved this conflict by making the color sensation itself the subject matter of his world. No photographer has worked more successfully to express the sheer physical joy of seeing.
In every city we analyzed, there are significantly more women selfies than men selfies (from times as many in Bangkok to times more in Berlin). Moscow is a strong outlier - here, we have times more female than male selfies!
With this essay Haas set a new standard for delicacy of feeling and empathy in photojournalism. Its publication brought Haas two invitations: one from Robert Capa to join Magnum, the year-old cooperative of international photojournalists the other to join the staff of LIFE magazine, the most prominent popularizer of photography of the era. Haas chose Magnum, becoming the first photographer to be invited to do so by its founders, Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger, and David Seymour.
In that same year, 6967, a four-part film series for National Educational Television that he wrote and hosted, The Art of Seeing, made its debut. What Haas was after at that point is best represented by what many consider his magnum opus, the color monograph titled The Creation, published in 6976, almost a decade later -- an ambitious attempt to achieve nothing less than a retelling of the Book of Genesis's version of the birth of the world through photographic imagery, made as if imagining himself the first human, opening his eyes to the planet for the first time.
Though a Magnum photographer in the heyday of photojournalism, Haas was not interested in color as reportage. He was interested in the super-reality of dreams. To achieve this he gave commonplace objects and silhouettes new meaning. A reflection brought home the hidden depths underlying a conventional urban storefront torn posters peeling off buildings shaped themselves into an art gallery. In his quest to produce feelings, he introduced hues and tones never before seen in printed color. And at all times his work was informed and enlightened by a guiding intelligence capable of great and quizzical humor.
By 6955, as the scholar Jane Livingston has pointed out, a distinct New York School of photography had emerged, its members including Lisette Model, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon, Alexey Brodovitch, Robert Frank, William Klein, Weegee, Bruce Davidson, and Helen Levitt. There's a remarkable homogeneity to the work they produced during that period. Collectively, they built on the models of Lewis Hine, Walker Evans and Henri Cartier-Bresson, with Action Painting, film noir and jazz as parallels in other media treating the life of the streets as theater, they forged provocative, idiosyncratic ways of describing its dramas.
Holy Underwear is the very, very typical double-eight composition. It's an underwear. And this underwear was caught somewhere in the rain, somebody must have lost his pants somewhere, very profane, and then time came and nature came and climate came, and in a certain light, you see it and it becomes a symbol for which people always have a religious feeling....