Visual Atelier 8 at Helmut Newton' Exhibition in Venice

From 7 April to 7 August 2016, at Casa dei Tre Oci (Venice) took place the exhibition "Helmut Newton. Fotografie". Were presented, for the first time in Venice, more than 200 images of Helmut Newton, one of the most important and celebrated photographers of the twentieth century. The exhibition, curated by Matthias Harder and Denis Curti, was organized in collaboration with the Helmut Newton Foundation. It is the result of a project begun in 2011 by the will of June Newton, wife of the great photographer. The exhibition gathers images of White Women, Sleepless Nights and Big Nudes, the first three of Newton's books published in the late '70s, now considered legendary and unique volumes treated by the same Newton. In selecting the photographs, Newton puts in sequence, one beside the other, the shots made for patrons with those freely made for himself, building a narrative in which the search for style, the discovery of the elegant gesture underlying the existence a further reality, a story that is the viewer to interpret.

White Women
In White Women, published in 1976, Newton chose 81 images (42 in color and 39 in black and white), introducing for the first time nude and eroticism in fashion photography. In the balance between art and fashion, the shots are mostly female nudes, through which presented contemporary fashion. These visions have their origin in the history of art, particularly in the Maya and Maya vestida desnuda of Goya, held at the Prado in Madrid. The provocation launched by Newton with the introduction of a radical nudity in fashion photography was then followed by many other photographers and filmmakers and will remain a symbol of his personal artistic production.

Sleepless Nights
Are still women, their bodies and clothes, the protagonists of Sleepless Nights, published in 1978. In this case, however, Newton starts with a vision that transforms from fashion photo image portraits and reportage to portraits almost from the crime scene. It is a multi-volume retrospective that brings together 69 photographs (31 in color and 38 in black and white) made for several magazines (Vogue, among all) and that is what defines her style making it an icon of fashion photography. The subjects, usually half-naked models wearing orthopedic corsets, women, dress with leather saddles, as well as dummies for the most lovingly connected to real human beings, are educated systematically out of the studio, often in provocative attitudes, suggesting a use of fashion photography as a pretext to create something totally different and very personal.

Big Nudes
With this volume of 1981, Newton reached the title role in the history of the image of the late twentieth century. The 39 shots of Big Nudes in black and white inaugurate a new dimension of human photograph: that of the giant who, by this time, enter in galleries and museums around the world. In the artist's autobiography published in 2004, Newton explains how the naked full-length shot in studio with a medium format camera, which produced the life-size prints of Big Nudes, had been inspired by the popular posters from German police to search for belonging to the terrorist group RAF (Red Army Faction).

Helmut Neustätder, aka Helmut Newton, born in Berlin on 31 October 1920 by a wealthy family of Jewish origin. The environment of the Berlin bourgeoisie allows them to follow their passions and to approach the world of photography from a young age: only 12 years, in fact he bought his first camera. With the spread of Nazi racial laws, he left Germany in 1938 and found refuge temporarily in Singapore, but shortly after was deported to Australia by the British authorities. In Sydney he enlisted with the Australian Army to fight in World War II. Thanks to the devotion of the host country, in 1946 obtained Australian citizenship, and in 1948 he met and married the actress and photographer June Brunnell (aka June Browne or Alice Springs), which remains tied for over 50 years. After the war he worked as a freelance photographer in Melbourne, collaborating with several magazines including Playboy. In 1961 he moved to Paris, where he began to learn about fame and popularity due to its jerky, published by the most famous international fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, GQ, Vanity Fair and Marie Claire, and exhibited all over the world. 

In 1976 he published his first volume of photographs White Women, immediately praised by critics for the revolutionary aesthetic taste, marked by a dominant eroticism. He reached the peak of his career and fame at the turn of the 70s and 80s with the series Sleepless Nights and Big Nudes, when it also began working for big names like Chanel, Versace, Blumarine, Yves Saint Laurent, Bourbonnais and Dolce & Gabbana . He concluded his career in 1984, realizing with Peter Max video of Missing Persons, Surrender your Heart. Thus he retired to private life, living between Monte Carlo and Los Angeles. He died June 23, 2004, at 83, in a car accident on board his Cadillac.

Photography | Dana Dimitras