Ernst Haas

Austrian-American, 1921–1986

Haas is considered one of the pioneers of colour photography. Combining photojournalism in the 1940s and 1950s with his own projects, Haas created organic and vivid images of natural objects and people, by employing techniques such as a shallow depth, specific focus, blurring of motions and lucid colours.

Born in Vienna, Haas started his career after the war, by photographing Austrian prisoners of war who were returning home. This brought him to the attention of LIFE magazine, whom he continued to photograph for throughout his career. By invitation, he joined Magnum in 1949, and remained close to Robert Cape and also Cartier Bresson. In 1958, Popular Photography magazine listed Haas as one of the 10 greatest photographers in the world.

In 1962, the first ever colour photography exhibition presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, was a retrospective of Haas’s work. Haas then launched a project to visualize the creation of the Earth, which was published in his first book The Creation (1971), with 106 expressive colour photographs from all over the world. It sold in over 300 000 copies – the most a phone book has ever sold.