exhibition

Helmut Newton

17 December 2021 — 17 April 2022
  • Helmut Newton

Erarta Museum of Contemporary Art presents an exhibition by Helmut Newton, one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century whose innovative images appeared on the pages of the American, French, British, Italian, and Russian editions of Vogue, as well as Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Vanity Fair, Oui, and Playboy

  • Portraits of Andy Warhol, Karl Lagerfeld, David Hockney, Charlotte Rampling, Elsa Peretti, and other international celebrities of the 1970s–80s

  • Redefined femininity: the first photographer to show women in the position of power and authority

  • Aesthetically immaculate images fusing careful planning and craftsmanship

  • © Helmut Newton Estate / Courtesy Helmut Newton Foundation
  • © Helmut Newton Estate / Courtesy Helmut Newton Foundation
  • © Helmut Newton Estate / Courtesy Helmut Newton Foundation
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The German/Australian photographer Helmut Newton was born in 1920. At a casual glance, one finds it hard to believe that his highly provocative shots that revolutionised fashion photography were created by someone whose artistic journey had begun in mid-20th century. Initially toying with the idea of becoming a paparazzi, Helmut Newton ultimately reached unprecedented heights, shooting iconic portraits of Margaret Thatcher and Salvador Dalí and having among the admirers of his talent such global luminaries as Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Twiggy, and Elizabeth Taylor, to name just a few. Since the 1980s, this grand provocateur gained widespread acclaim for his portraits of Catherine Deneuve, Sting, Sophia Loren, Monica Bellucci, Sigourney Weaver, and Jane Birkin, while his famous photo of Cindy Crawford with a Doberman is considered one of the most seminal images in modern-day portraiture. And yet it was his work in the 1970s that shocked and stunned the public. The exhibition at Erarta Museum will be a showcase of photographs from this incredibly brilliant and groundbreaking period in Helmut Newton’s oeuvre.

Having survived a heart attack in 1971, Helmut managed to deal with its after-effects with the help and support from his wife and muse June. This experience ushered in a new stage in Newton’s creative career, paving the way for more explicit shots redefining femininity and for the first time showing women in the position of power and authority. The images created over that period, often imbued with voyeuristic, fetishist or lesbian subtexts, outraged the conservative public and feminists alike, although Newton caused a pronounced split in the ranks of the latter: while some condemned his output as being exploitative, others gave credit to the image of a powerful and openly dominating woman celebrated by the photographer. As for Newton himself, he subscribed to the notion that ‘Voyeurism in photography is a necessary and professional sickness.’

Proudly adopting the great photographer’s name as its laconic title, the exhibition at Erarta will feature more than 70 photographs taken between 1973 and 1981. Among them is the legendary contrapuntal diptych from 1981 They Are Coming!, a series titled Rue Aubriot that effectively elevated Yves Saint Laurent’s tuxedo to a cult status, portraits of the young Karl Lagerfeld, Andy Warhol, Charlotte Rampling, Elsa Peretti, David Hockney, Paloma Picasso, self-portrait with wife and anonymous model, and other celebrated images.

The exhibition at Erarta Museum is curated by Dr. Matthias Harder, Director of the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. The Foundation was inaugurated by June Newton soon after Helmut’s death in 2004 to commemorate the fact that in 1938, fleeing the Nazis, Helmut Newton was forced to leave his home and homeland. 

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