AMERICA 1970s/80s at the Helmut Newton Foundation
HOFER, METZNER, MEYEROWITZ, NEWTON
“We decided to display all very nice photos. Nothing catastrophic. A cool America. A terrible difference from today’s America. There was provocation, but it was sexual, liberating, and alluring.”
– Dr. Matthias Harder, Director/Curator of the the Helmut Newton Foundation
The new exhibit America 70s/80s at the Helmut Newton Foundation is a refreshing exhibit of rich and richly-coloured eye candy, showcasing a tight-knit band of photographers: Helmut Newton (who, in this time, was bouncing between NYC and LA, shooting for Vogue and Vanity Fair, making connections with well-funded artists, well-heeled designers, and well-versed starlets), his close friend the Brooklynite Shelia Metzer (also a photographer for Vogue, who first started her career as an art director, claiming that “no one was shooting her vision properly, so she ought to just do it herself”), Evelyn Hofer (who split her time between high fashion campaigns and photo-documentarian work), and Joel Meyerowitz, who is best known for his portraits of residents, families, and lovers vacationing off the coast of Cape Cod. These images by Meyerowitz serve as the exhibit’s highlight: showcased in brilliant color and large format, some directly printed onto the walls. The carefree sandy subjects are staring straight into the lens, gazing back at us, asking us what we are noticing about them.
Everything was possible in these years. If Newton wanted a helicopter, he got a helicopter. He would shoot a long-legged beauty in a swimsuit dangling from it. An atomic submarine? No problem. He could hop a motorboat with a drawn map on how to get to it, with aforementioned long-legged beauty and a parrot in tow. Newton documented the possibility of an exaggerated life. Where else could this exist so naturally other than America?
This exhibit serves as more than just a glossy and opulent look at the hard bodies of free-loving Los Angeles in the 70s, and it goes beyond the glamour and opulence of Manhattan in the 80s. It is also a reminder of what we continue to fight and strive for in the free world today: beauty, freedom, self-expression. Americans gave us the dream; it’s the Europeans carrying it through.
The AMERICA 70s/80s exhibit opens 9 October 2020 and goes through 16 May 2021. More information can be found here.
Helmut Newton, Stern; Los Angeles, 1980
Helmut Newton, Elizabeth Taylor; Los Angeles, 1985
Evelyn Hofer, Car Park; New York, 1965
Evelyn Hofer, Queensboo Bridge; New York, 1964
Joel Meyerwitz, Chuckie; Provincetown, 1980
Joel Meyerwitz, Caroline; Provincetown, 1983
Shelia Metzer, Fendi Campidoglio, 1986
Text by Janna Shaw