— Photographer Spotlight: Helmut Newton

On 24th March a monumental exhibition of the great photographer’s work will open at the Grand Palais in Paris. It is the first show since his death in 2004 and over 230 photographs will be presented.


Helmut Newton is one of The English Group Marc Carter’s favourite photographers and is considered one of the most important photographers of the twentieth century who has photographed some of the most beautiful women in the world. 

Beyond all the criticism – he has been labeled the “King of Kink” by the media, called the Antichrist by groups of radical feminists and straddled the line between art and pornography – Newton’s reputation, both behind the lens and in front of it has earned him high praise from many of the most respected names in both art and fashion. Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of American Vogue, who has published Newton’s photographs for years says, “He loves to be outrageous.” and calls him “…unbelievably influential.”


Helmut Neustädter was born in Berlin on October 31, 1920, son of Klara and Max Neustädter.


At the age of 12, Helmut bought his first camera, a Kodak Brownie, with hopes of travelling the world as a photojournalist.


During an apprenticeship with society photographer Madame Yva, where Helmut learned to use a camera, he saw his first lingerie shoot, which, though unknown at the time, would set the stage for the remainder of his career.


Once Hitler took in power in 1933, Nazism became the official ideology of Germany and, in 1935, with the passing of the Nuremberg Law, it became increasingly difficult for Jewish families, such as Helmut’s.


In November of 1938, Helmut and his family fled Germany. His parents went to South America, while Helmut went to Singapore where he briefly worked as a portrait photographer before being interned by the British authorities and ultimately sent to Australia aboard the Queen Mary.


When the war ended in 1945 Helmut chose to remain in Australia, became a citizen and changed his last name to Newton.


Newton opened a studio on Flanders Lane, a fashionable street in the textile district of Melbourne, where he began to shoot fashion and theatre. It was there that Newton would also see his work in his first exhibition.


In 1953, Newton formed a partnership with another fashion photographer, Henry Talbot, though with Newton’s reputation as a fashion photographer growing, it was to be somewhat short lived.


In 1956, Newton was commissioned to shoot a special supplement for Vogue Magazine, which landed him a 12-month contract with British Vogue.


Unfortunately, this meant he would have to leave the studio recently started with Talbot and move to London. However, Newton did not finish the contract for the magazine and, instead moved to Paris to work for various French and German fashion magazines. He returned to Melbourne in March of 1959, under contract for Australian Vogue. His homecoming was again to be short lived, as he moved to Paris in 1961, where he continued working as a fashion photographer, shooting for French Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar (home of legendary Fashion Editor Polly Mellen). It was during his time in Paris that he was developing the stylized eroticism that would become his signature, fueled, at least partially, by what Newton calls his “rather nasty Berlin sense of humor.”


The 1980s ushered in the Supermodels, not at all the waif-like models of the 60s, and, for Newton, it was the inspiration he needed to produce one of the most notable projects of his career. Newton says, “And then the big Swedish, German, and American girls came on the scene in the ‘80s. They were built like truck drivers, which is a look that I like. It was the heyday of the super models like Cindy Crawford — Cindy had a great quality.”


The project was called Big Nudes and in it, Newton created a new chapter in his body of work. The photographs were a stark contrast to his elaborately styled fashion work and, instead, were meant to evoke the strength of the women (a favorite theme of Newton), who were photographed on an empty set in nothing but high-heeled shoes.


Helmut Newton has influenced countless photographers, but his mark of influence also extends beyond photography into fashion, advertising and design.


Fashion design icon and film director, Tom Ford, was Creative Director of both Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent when he used a series of  Newton’s photographs of women in orthopedic body braces as the inspiration for a line of jewelry. ”I was very aware of his twisted sexual fantasies as I was growing up in the 70′s,” says Ford. ”Every one of them has some sort of debauched setting and the subtlest layers of meaning. It was shocking, stunning and nauseating — but gave the sensation of the utmost glamour. That buzz. That, to me, became fashion.”


Via: Faded + Blurred


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