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Helmut Newton Biography:

Born in 1920 in Berlin to a prosperous Jewish family, the teenaged Newton left Germany in 1938 after the escalation of Nazi violence. He went first to Singapore, where he lived for several years, and then to Australia. There he would meet his future wife and collaborator, June Newton (who is also known as the photographer Alice Springs), and begin his career in fashion photography. Newton lived in London in the late 1950s before achieving commercial success in Paris at French Vogue in the 1960s. He has worked for every major fashion magazine in Europe and the United States, including French, Italian, German, American and British Vogue, Stern, Vanity Fair, Marie Claire and Queen. Newton's repertoire also features advertising commissions, including a portfolio that he produced for the Volkswagen Beetle in 1999.

Helmut Newton is the doyen of fashion’s dark side, a photographer who has fundamentally changed the terms of the fashion image. Over the last forty years he has brought a unique mixture of style, sex, and theater to fashion photography and has shaped not only magazine imagery, but fashion itself. The International Center of Photography, 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street, will present Helmut Newton: Work, from September 28 through December 30, 2001. This retrospective exhibition, containing approximately 200 images, will show the full range of Newton’s work, dating from 1960 through 2000. ICP will be the only U.S. venue for the exhibition, which will include examples of the photographer’s fashion, portraiture, nudes and montages, many of which have never been published or exhibited before.

A major innovator in fashion photography, Newton has introduced and elaborated on themes and subjects that continue to influence not only fashion but artistic and cinematic imagery as well. He creates implied or ambiguous narratives that often center on the themes of eroticism and power, which he records with a detached sense of amusement or irony. In his earlier work he favored settings of great luxury and wealth in Paris and on the French Riviera, while in his more recent work he often uses harsher, more modern backdrops such as the Hoover Dam or graffiti-scrawled streets in Paris.

Like much of his work in fashion, Newton’s portraits record the opulent worlds of highly stylized and privileged people. He is able to illuminate the quirks and pretensions of his famous subjects without judging them. His sitters are drawn from the worlds of art, cinema, and politics as well as fashion, and include Ralph Fiennes, Andy Warhol, Catherine Deneuve, Anthony Hopkins, Faye Dunaway, Leni Riefenstahl, Gianfranco Ferré, Kurt Waldheim, and Anselm Kiefer.

Among his most controversial and most memorable images are his nudes, especially the Big Nudes, which he began making in 1980, and Sie kommen (They’re Coming), from 1981. Unlike the usual prone or passive nudes, these women are bold and forthright, standing upright and confronting the viewer. Newton has credited several sources for inspiring them, including German police photos of terrorists and Nazi propaganda imagery. He offers a glimpse into his sources in his montages, in which he combines found photos along with his own.

This exhibition was curated by June Newton and organized by Manfred Heiting for the German Center of Photography, an institute of the State Museums of Berlin (Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin). The ICP showing will be organized by Carol Squiers and Vanessa Rocco and designed by Julie Ault and Martin Beck. It is accompanied by the book, Helmut Newton: Work (Taschen, 2000). Newton was the recipient of the ICP Infinity 2000 Publication award for Sumo, a 20 x 28 inch, 66-pound, 480-page book accompanied by its own table designed by Philippe Starck.

-Source: icp.org


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