In this publication, Henry Leutwyler chronicles the public and personal journey of the renowned Life magazine photographer Philippe Halsman (1906–79), who boasted an impressive tally of 101 Life covers—surpassing all other photographers. Leutwyler’s initial encounter with Halsman’s work occurred during his teenage years at an exhibition held at the International Center of Photography in 1979. Now, over four decades later, his enduring fascination has come to fruition. Employing his distinctive approach, which combines elements of both forensic investigation and imagination, Leutwyler unravels the significance embedded within lifeless objects, delving into how they unveil the essence of their owner’s character. In a close partnership with the Halsman Archive, Leutwyler has captured the essence of hundreds of possessions belonging to Halsman—ranging from cameras and eyeglasses to passports and a diverse array of letters (including correspondences from Janet Leigh, Richard Avedon, and Richard Nixon, among others). The collection extends to table-tennis equipment, jewel-like paper-wrapped soaps from various corners of the globe, offering, in the words of Halsman’s grandson Oliver Halsman Rosenberg, “magical evidence of a time that will never exist again.”
About the Author
Born in Switzerland in 1961, Leutwyler is a self-taught photographer with a stubborn streak and unflappable love for the medium. His grandfather and father were both printers. He decided not to follow their path, instead to travel and photograph, soaking up color and culture from around the world.
After being rejected by one of Switzerland’s leading photography schools, he opened his own photo studio in Lausanne, photographing cheese, chocolates and watches and went bankrupt in a year-and-a-half.
In 1985, Leutwyler moved to Paris where he apprenticed with photographer Gilles Tapie and rapidly established himself as an editorial photographer. A decade later, Leutwyler moved to New York City.
He has photographed the likes of Michelle Obama, Julia Roberts, Tom Wolfe, Iggy Pop, Rihanna and Martin Scorsese to name a few.