Anyone well versed in fashion, upon hearing the word “jump,” inevitably thinks of Caroline Trentini in a cocktail dress in front of a taupe backdrop in Vogue. For years, the Trentini Leap has marked the pages of the glossy, even influencing other Vogue models like Chanel Iman and Coco Rocha to bounce around.
But Trentini was not the originator of the jump shot, nor was her stylist, Grace Coddington. It was photographer Phillipe Halsman, whose lens captured stars of yore like Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelley, and Audrey Hepburn in mid-air.
An exhibition of Halsman’s work at the Laurence Miller Gallery is currently on display, showcasing the jumps of everyone from Merce Cunningham to Richard Nixon. Halsman coined the term “jumpology” to describe his method, telling the New York TImes: “When you ask a person to jump, his attention is mostly directed toward the act of jumping, and the mask falls, so that the real person appears.”
Jumping itself is an innately fun thing; it seems like everyone in Halsman’s photos is smiling, giggling, or dramatizing. All you need to do is look at a photo of Trentini in flight for proof.
Vogue consistently chooses the jump because it makes the model seem ecstatic at the prospect of the season’s new fashions. Essentially a marketing tool, a happy model having fun is more likely to prompt the average consumer to purchase an item as opposed to a gloomy model looking sorrowful, feet firmly planted on planet earth.
Whether you count Halsman's work as performance art or a relative of the Action Painting movement of the 1960s (embodied by Pollock and de Kooning), it has had a profound effect on popular photography. And the plot of The September Issue.