A photographer’s full-color midcentury city

As a young man in World War II-ravaged Austria, photographer Ernst Haas made a name for himself with a series of images of Austrian women waiting for their husbands to return from a POW camp.


“The emotionally wrenching shots caught the eye of Robert Capa, who invited him to New York to join his newly formed Magnum [a photo cooperative] alongside Cartier-Bresson and other eminent founders,” states The Jewish Chronicle Online.


[Above: Clouds and Skyline, New York, 1957]

Arriving in the U.S. in 1951, he shot ad campaigns as well as haunting images of postwar America.


He also turned his camera on New York City, capturing fleeting moments of the abstract beauty of the city’s street life and landscapes. [Central Park, below, in 1952, published in Life magazine]


“Rejecting the prevailing black-and-white aesthetic, Haas embraced colour as early as 1949, which earned him the honour of becoming the first photographer to have a solo show of colour work at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York in 1962,” states The Jewish Chronicle Online.

Ernsthaasphoto[Above: Reflections, Third Avenue, 1952]

“He even explored the visual effects of movement, blurring the colours to look like they had been applied with paint.”

Haas’ pioneering photos have been collected in a 2011 book, Ernst Haas: Color Correction.

Like Saul Leiter and other photographers who shot New York in full-on color during the same period, roughly the 1950s through the 1970s, they show us a magical, reflective, transient city.

[Ernst Haas, left]

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8 Responses to “A photographer’s full-color midcentury city”

  1. DP Says:

    Funny, he reminds me of Saul Leiter, before you even mentioned him.

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    Especially the top photo. I just love that explosive color.

  3. Newport Carl Says:

    Great posting…thank you!

  4. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    Beautiful 3rd picture of The Pond…well, is that The Pond near 59th St?

  5. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    I think it’s the Reservoir toward the north end of the park. It’s been a mystery!

  6. Magical color lights of a New York City night | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] Over the years he captured a postwar, midcentury New York in all its poetic, weird, magical glory. […]

  7. A surrealistic morning commute in the 1952 city | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] It’s one moment in time in a very different New York. See more of Haas’ stunning photos of the midcentury city here. […]

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