There's nothing (and everything) left to chance in the world-famous image Life magazine photographer Philippe Halsman, shot in 1948, of the legendary surrealist painter Salvador Dalí.

Indeed, it took Halsman 28 takes to get Dali Atomicus just right. Little wonder, considering that in addition to a levitating, brush-wielding Dalí, this visual ode to suspension also featured flying cats — three of them — and a mid-air stream of cascading water tossed from a bucket.

Dalí, who died 30 years ago this week, was widely photographed, and appears to be partner-in-crime in many of the most memorable images. The iconic Dali Atomicus stands above them all as the pinnacle of photography as absurdist theater.

Dali Atomicus — ©Philippe Halsman / OneShot

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