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Helmut Newton

German  •  1920-2004

Biography

Helmut Newton's distinct style of eroticism and highly produced images was deemed rebellious and revolutionary in its time, as he turned the expected notion of beauty, depicted by passive and submissive women, on its head. Depicting his models as strong and powerful women, Newton reversed gender stereotypes and examined society's understanding of female desire.

Newton created a working space for his models that was part decadent and part unorthodox — a safe microcosm in which fantasies became reality. And perhaps most famously of all, Newton engendered an environment in which his female models claimed the space around them with unapologetic poise and commanding sensuality. His almost cinematic compositions provided a hyper-real backdrop for the provocative images of sculptural, larger-than-life women, and enhanced the themes of voyeurism and fetishism that run throughout his work.

Insights

  • Phillips set the world auction record for Newton in May 2018 with Panoramic Nude with Gun, Villa d'Este, Como, 1989, selling for £729,000.

  • Newton started his career with an apprenticeship with photographer Else Ernestine Neuländer-Simon, known as Yva, whose surreal portraits and provocative nudes inspired Newton throughout his career.  

  • Amongst other publications of his work, Taschen's oversized SUMO is a tribute that includes 400 images, and was edited by his wife June Newton. 

  • Newton's Private Property Suites, comprised of 45 prints in three suites of 15 prints each — all hand-selected by Newton in 1984 — present superb examples of Newton's distinctly flirtatious style, one that he meticulously chiseled over a decades-long career.

"My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain."

Past Lots

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