Unique exhibition on Falsterbo Photo Art Museum opening on April 7.
Helmut Newton was born in Berlin as Helmut Neustädter in 1920. Being of Jewish descent, he fled the Nazis in 1938 with two cameras in his luggage and arrived in Australia via Singapore, where he gained citizenship and changed his name to Newton. In 1956, he began an unprecedented career in fashion photography when he was given a one-year contract with the British edition of Vogue.
His career took off when he moved to Paris in 1961 to work full-time for the French edition of Vogue. His images for the fashion magazines Vogue and Elle starting in the 1960s brought him an audience of millions and made him a living legend. As a fashion photographer, he managed better than anyone else to stand firmly with one foot in commercialism and one in the visual arts.
Newton was praised but also criticized for his provocative portrayal of women. But many praised him for breaking taboos and both documenting and influencing society's changing attitudes towards sex and female willpower.
His pictures, almost always in black and white, have a unique style where fashion is secondary and the female model is primary. The images feature many world-famous models and actors such as Catherine Deneuve and Isabella Rossellini. The result was always glamorous, scandalous and titillating. The world was both captivated and horrified, and Helmut Newton quickly became the most copied fashion photographer of the 20th century.
He has sometimes been called cynical and exploitative, but the famous models he has worked with say that he did not see the women as objects, but instead let them play the main role in an exciting story.
Through his lens, he depicted the feminist revolution where women, while appearing to be objects, were in full control of their destinies. Where his early images depicted women surrounded by luxury and decadence, over time they were transformed into increasingly Amazonian creatures who confidently paraded with well-trimmed muscles and high-heeled shoes. They exuded authority and appeared to be intensely engaged in a drama that continued beyond the image, a larger narrative that the viewer was left to imagine.
Of the more than 100 numbered and signed original photographs in the exhibition, 59 come from the private collections of Christina and Claes Lindquist, while another 45 works have been borrowed to give a very broad picture of a unique artistry.
Many of the most famous images are of course included, but also a number of odd and very rarely shown photographs, which makes the exhibition unique for Scandinavia.
Among many other things, five of Newton's most typical large-format photographs are shown, which are either completely unique or exist in only 2-5 copies .
Another highly unusual feature of the exhibition is the nine pictures he took in 1999 on behalf of Volkswagen AG for the re-launch of the Beetle 'folk bubble'. Collected in a custom-made aluminum case and a picture CD, they are an almost erotic depiction of a car model.
Newton's collection Big Nude consists of images photographed in large format in 1979-81. During the process, Newton also took 26 documentary images depicting the work. There are only two known sets of these 26 images - all signed - which are now on display for the first time in Sweden together with a handwritten letter from Newton.
Helmut Newton died in 2004 in Los Angeles, the year after he created the Helmut Newton Foundation to manage his artistic legacy. Newton's images have been shown in a large number of exhibitions over the years. The retrospective exhibition created for his 80th birthday, which was shown in London, New York, Tokyo and Prague, among other places, attracted much attention. Today, his original photographs are hard to find - and often unique - and sell for millions of dollars at the world's major auction houses.
The exhibition "Helmut Newton - the provocateur" at Falsterbo Photo Art Museum opens on April 7 and runs until January 7, 2024.