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The Art of Seeing 

Featured in our Fall 2019 campaign, the revolutionary
images of Austrian-American photographer Ernst
Haas invite us to dream with our eyes open—a vision
we share in art, design and life.

The Art of Seeing

Featured in our Fall 2019 campaign, the
revolutionary images of Austrian-American
photographer Ernst Haas invite us to dream
with our eyes open—a vision we share in
art, design and life.

As a company that harnesses the power of creativity, we consider Ernst Haas a kindred spirit—a dreamer and renegade who pushed the boundaries of his craft. One of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, he pioneered the use of color film at a time when it was considered inferior to black and white as a medium for serious self-expression. Often called the “poet of photography,” Haas was innovative in his use of slow shutter speeds, giving many of his pictures the illusion of movement.  

As a company that harnesses the power of creativity,
we consider Ernst Haas a kindred spirit—a dreamer
and renegade who pushed the boundaries of his craft.
One of the most influential photographers of the 20th
century, he pioneered the use of color film at a time
when it was considered inferior to black and white as
a medium for serious self-expression. Often called
the “poet of photography,” Haas was innovative in his
use of slow shutter speeds, giving many of his
pictures the illusion of movement.  

No photographer has worked
more successfully to express the
sheer physical joy of seeing. 

— J O H N  S Z A R K O W S K I

Former Director of Photography, Museum of Modern Art

No photographer has
worked more successfully
to express the sheer
physical joy of seeing.
 

— J O H N  S Z A R K O W S K I

Former Director of Photography,
Museum of Modern Art

A black-and-white image shows photographer Ernst Haas holding a camera instrument in his hands in front of his face in front of a cityscape.

Ernst Haas holding a camera lens simulator in 1955. © Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos

Ernst Haas holding a camera lens simulator in 1955. © Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos

After the War  

On his 25th birthday in 1946, Haas bartered on the black market a 22-pound block of margarine for his first camera and began documenting the aftermath of WWII in Vienna, his birthplace. Three years later in 1949, his first magazine feature debuted in Heute and Life. The black-and-white images captured the homecoming of Austrian prisoners of war with such stark realism and emotional depth that Robert Capa—considered one of the world’s greatest war photographers—invited the 28-year-old former medical student to join Magnum, Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography collective in Paris. At the same time, Life magazine offered Haas a role as staff photographer, but he famously declined, writing to editor Wilson Hicks that he wanted to “stay free, so I can carry out my ideas.”       

After the War 

On his 25th birthday in 1946, Haas bartered on the black market a 22-pound block of margarine for his first camera and began documenting the aftermath of WWII in Vienna, his birthplace. Three years later in 1949, his first magazine feature debuted in Heute and Life. The black-and-white images captured the homecoming of Austrian prisoners of war with such stark realism and emotional depth that Robert Capa—considered one of the world’s greatest war photographers—invited the 28-year-old former medical student to join Magnum, Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson’s photography collective in Paris. At the same time, Life magazine offered Haas a role as staff photographer, but he famously declined, writing to editor Wilson Hicks that he wanted to “stay free, so I can carry out my ideas.”       

Magic City 

In 1950, Haas left a war-scarred Europe for New York. The city’s nonstop pace and vibrant palette captivated him, driving Haas to experiment and see things anew. Trained as a painter, he began to experiment with materials and methods, especially color film, abstraction and composition. His pictures were soon published as “Images of a Magic City,” Life magazine’s first full-color photo essay, a groundbreaking achievement for the 32-year-old Haas. Through his lens, skyscrapers came alive with light and movement, transforming color photography into true art. 

Magic City 

In 1950, Haas left a war-scarred Europe for New York. The city’s nonstop pace and vibrant palette captivated him, driving Haas to experiment and see things anew. Trained as a painter, he began to experiment with materials and methods, especially color film, abstraction and composition. His pictures were soon published as “Images of a Magic City,” Life magazine’s first full-color photo essay, a groundbreaking achievement for the 32-year-old Haas. Through his lens, skyscrapers came alive with light and movement, transforming color photography into true art. 

Two color photographs by Ernst Haas are placed side by side. Left: A photo of a New York City office building with windows reflecting another building. Right: An image abstracts light reflections and clouds with the New York City skyline. A photograph of the Chrysler Building and midtown Manhattan is juxtaposed with four long rectangles showing a golden-and-blue sky with white clouds above the Manhattan skyline.

Color is joy.

— E R N S T  H A A S

Color is joy.

— E R N S T  H A A S

Two spreads from Ernst Haas’s “Images of a Magic City” in Life magazine are placed side by side, showing glass windows reflecting another NYC building and colorful billboards.

Ernst Haas’s “Images of a Magic City” spanned two issues of Life Magazine’s
and was the publication’s first full-color photo essay. 

Ernst Haas’s “Images of a Magic City” spanned two issues of 
Life Magazine’s and was the publication’s first full-color photo essay.

From MoMA to the Marlboro Man 

Following the success of his Life portfolio, Haas continued to blaze new trails, being one of the first to use a deliberate blur in his photos of bullfights and rodeos. “Bored with obvious reality, I find my fascination in transforming it into a subjective point of view,” Haas wrote in 1961. The picture “will speak for itself,” he explained of his rule-breaking approach—“less descriptive, more creative…less prose, more poetry.” In 1962, he invited viewers to dream with “open eyes” in “The Art of Seeing,” a four-part series he wrote and hosted for NYC public television. That same year, the Museum of Modern Art held its first-ever exhibition of color photography—a ten-year retrospective of Haas’s work. 

From MoMA to the Marlboro Man 

Following the success of his Life portfolio, Haas continued to blaze new trails, being one of the first to use a deliberate blur in his photos of bullfights and rodeos. “Bored with obvious reality, I find my fascination in transforming it into a subjective point of view,” Haas wrote in 1961. The picture “will speak for itself,” he explained of his rule-breaking approach—“less descriptive, more creative…less prose, more poetry.” In 1962, he invited viewers to dream with “open eyes” in “The Art of Seeing,” a four-part series he wrote and hosted for NYC public television. That same year, the Museum of Modern Art held its first-ever exhibition of color photography—a ten-year retrospective of Haas’s work.

I want to be remembered more by a
total vision than a few single pictures.

— E R N S T  H A A S

I want to be remembered
more by a total vision than
a few single pictures.

— E R N S T  H A A S

Haas’s unique way of looking at the world influenced more than just photojournalism. Before his death in 1986, Haas captured the dynamism of ballet dancers and major motion pictures on the New York City stage as well as on the sets of West Side Story, The Misfits and The Third Man. He also worked on iconic Madison Avenue advertising campaigns, such as the first Marlboro Man cowboy. 

Haas’s unique way of looking at the world influenced more than just photojournalism. Before his death in 1986, Haas captured the dynamism of ballet dancers and major motion pictures on the New York City stage as well as on the sets of West Side Story, The Misfits and The Third Man. He also worked on iconic Madison Avenue advertising campaigns, such as the first Marlboro Man cowboy. 

Our Fall Campaign 

Inspired by his enduring legacy of innovation and creativity, we, at David Yurman, partnered with the Estate of Ernst Haas for our Fall 2019 campaign. The season’s images juxtapose our jewelry with Haas’s photographs of New York, underscoring their unconventional and interconnected artistry while reflecting the vibrant heart, soul and pulse of the city. 

Our Fall Campaign 

Inspired by his enduring legacy of innovation and creativity, we, at David Yurman, partnered with the Estate of Ernst Haas for our Fall 2019 campaign. The season’s images juxtapose our jewelry with Haas’s photographs of New York, underscoring their unconventional and interconnected artistry while reflecting the vibrant heart, soul and pulse of the city. 

Here is a free spirit, untrammeled by
tradition and theory, who has gone out and
found beauty unparalleled in photography. 

— E D W A R D  S T E I C H E N,  Photographer  

Here is a free spirit,
untrammeled by tradition
and theory, who has gone out and found beauty
unparalleled in photography. 

— E D W A R D  S T E I C H E N,  Photographer  

Now in Soho 

From August 15 through November 1, experience Haas’s
revolutionary vision of art at our Soho boutique

Now in Soho 

From August 15 through November 1,
experience Haas’s revolutionary vision
of art at our Soho boutique