Independent Writer, Researcher & Curator 
Ernst Haas:
Reconstructing London

ATLAS Gallery, London
23 May - 4 July 2015

Assistant Curator

Ben Burdett, Gallery Director
Jim Edwards, Gallery Manager
ATLAS Gallery is delighted to announce an exhibition of rarely seen images by Austrian-American photojournalist and color photographer Ernst Haas (1921-1986), which depict post-war London between 1949-1951. Selected from a large private collection of black and white vintage prints, the works capture London emerging from two of the darkest decades in its recent history and its subsequent transformation into a dynamic, bustling metropolis.

Haas documented the stoicism of daily life within the city with both empathy and levity; his images of ‘Speaker’s Corner’, a small area of Hyde Park, present as a microcosm for the changing face of post-war British society, offering an insight into the early stages of a multicultural democracy in formation. Black workers unions, socialist political parties and bowler-hatted gentry offer their manifestos to wandering crowds, perhaps enthused, amused, or both.

A photojournalist only at the very beginning of his career, Haas' London provides insight into both photographer and city gaining renewed senses of identity and purpose following World War II.

With a gift for lyricism and experimentation, Haas bridged the gap between photojournalism and the use of photography as a medium for expression and creativity. In addition to his coverage of events around the globe after WWII, Haas was an early innovator in color photography at a time when it was considered inferior to black and white for serious creative photographers. He gained notoriety for his graphic colour depictions of fifties New York, the neon landscapes of Route 66, and his film still work which includes 1961’s The Misfits, starring Marilyn Monroe in her final screen role.

Born in Vienna, Haas studied photography at the Graphische Lehr und Versuchsanstalt before acquiring his first camera in 1946. His first feature article, ‘Returning Prisoners of War’ was published in both Heute and Life magazines in 1949, prompting an invitation from  Robert Capa to join Magnum, the international photography cooperative founded by Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and Chim (David Seymour), of which he later served as president between 1959-60.  

In addition to the exhibition at Dorset Street, the gallery will be presenting nine images from ‘Speakers Corner’ at Photo London, Somerset House, between 21-24 May.