Last Updated July 13, 2018

Helmut Newton

German/Australian (Born 1920 - Died 2004 ) PREMIUM LISTING Featured
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Website: Visit website
Address: The Helmut Newton Foundation
Jebensstrasse 2
D - 10623
Telephone: +49 30 3186 4856

Influence: Historically influential or important

Helmut Newton (born Helmut Neustädter) was a German-Australian photographer. He was a widely imitated fashion photographer whose provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photos were a mainstay of Vogue and other publications during the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

Newton was born in Berlin. His family was Jewish. Interested in photography from the age of 12 when he purchased his first camera, he worked for the German photographer Yva (Elsie Neuländer Simon) from 1936.

The increasingly oppressive restrictions placed on Jews by the Nazis forced him to leave the country in December 1938. After arriving in Singapore he found he was able to remain there, first briefly as a photographer for the Straits Times and then as a portrait photographer.

Newton was interned by British authorities while in Singapore and was sent to Australia arriving in Sydney. Released from internment in 1942 he enlisted with the Australian Army and worked as a truck driver. After the war in 1945, he became a British subject and changed his name to Newton in 1946.

The same year Newton set up a studio in Melbourne and worked on fashion, theatre and industrial photography in the affluent postwar years. In 1948, he married actress June Browne.

Newton's growing reputation as a fashion photographer was rewarded when he secured a commission to illustrate a special Australian supplement for Vogue magazine, published in January 1956. He won a 12-month contract with British Vogue and left for London in early 1957. Newton left the magazine before the end of his contract and went to Paris, where he worked for French and German magazines.

Newton and wife finally settled in Paris in 1961 where he continued to work as a fashion photographer. His images appeared in magazines including the French edition of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar.

He established a particular style marked by erotic, stylised scenes, often with sado-masochistic and fetishistic subtexts. A heart attack in 1970 reduced Newton's output, nevertheless his wife's encouragement led to his profile continuing to expand, especially with a big success, the 1980 studio-bound stark infinity of his 'Big Nudes' series. His 'Naked and Dressed' portfolio followed and in 1992 'Domestic Nudes' which marked the pinnacle of his erotic-urban style, these series all underpinned with the prowess of his technical skills. The cool statuesque, and sexually practiced women in Newton's fashion and personal photographs were his most controversial creation, but stopped short of pornography. However his photographs have outraged some feminist viewers.

Newton also worked in portraiture, with subjects that include countless people who intrigued him-artists, actors, film directors, politicians, industrial magnates, the powerful and the charismatic from all spheres.

Helmut Newton died of injuries from a car accident at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, California in 2004. Shortly before his death he had established the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, Germany, and donated approximately one thousand of his works to his native city. Many are on permanent display at the Museum of Photography (Museum für Fotografie) in Jebensstraße 2, Berlin.


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