Photographer Helmut Newton captured the essence of femininity from the 1950s to the 2000s. The rule breaker would have been 100 this past Saturday, on the 31st of October. It is our responsibility to pay tribute to a lifetime’s work devoted to eroticism. Helmut was born in Berlin’s Schoenberg to a Jewish father and an American mother. He was interested in photography from an early age, but Germany in 1938 to move to a safer temporary land: Australia. It is in this exile that Helmut will meet his wife June and reconnect himself with his artistic practice.
His hyper-sexualized style opened the doors of Playboy for him, before turning to provocative fashion photography. He would become the pioneer of a new genre, a barely veiled fetishism, and voyeuristic approach of powerful female bodies bowing to no man, that he photographed from every angle for the most cutting-edge magazines of the time, from Vogue to Vanity Fair. Newton’s masterful shots and fantasies give life to and served as early inspirations for the creations of Yves-Saint Laurent, Gianni Versace, and Thierry Mugler.
Living in Paris then in Monte-Carlos, the Newton couple were at the heart of artistic life, intimately photographing such greats like Grace Johns and David Bowie, to the writer Francoise Sagan and the iconic Elizabeth Taylor, as well as making a number of supermodels household names, such as Iman and Jerry Hall.
His unique and controversial universe will become a strong identity of the 70s-80s fashion scenes. He remains a source of inspiration for many artists. Helmut Newton died on January 23, 2004, in Los Angeles and was buried back in Berlin Schoenberg, where his life began, near what is now his eponymous foundation.
The Helmut Newton Foundation is honoring his legacy by throwing a special celebration, showcasing largescale images outside of the legendary brutalist landmark Kraftwerk in Kreuzberg.
To one of our readers, we offer the chance to win one of his collectible books, entitled WORK. Post your favorite Helmut Newton photo on your Instagram, tag us at @numeroberlin as well as @helmutnewtonfoundation. We look forward to seeing your favorites!
Images Courtesy of the Helmut Newton Foundation
Image 1: Helmut Newton, Human and Dummy III, Paris 1976
Image 2: Helmut Newton, Jerry Hall, American Vogue, Paris 1974
Image 3: Helmut Newton, Reichstag, Berlin 1987
Image 4: Helmut Newton, Amica, Milan 1982
Image 5: Helmut Newton, Monica Bellucci, Monte Carlo 2001
Image 6: Helmut Newton, Mario Valentino, Monte Carlo 1998
Images 7 and 8: HELMUT NEWTON ONE HUNDRED installation on Köpenicker Straße 70, Berlin-Mitte, Photo by Max von Gumppenberg