Helmut Newton - Photographs New York Wednesday, April 3, 2013 | Phillips

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  • Literature

    Angeletti and Oliva, In Vogue, p. 233
    Haenlein, The Artificial of the Real, p. 131
    Harrison, Appearances: Fashion Photography Since 1945, p. 232
    Scalo, Helmut Newton: Pages from the Glossies-Facsimiles 1956-1998, p. 316
    Taschen, Helmut Newton: Work, p. 123
    American Vogue, May 1975, p. 106

  • Catalogue Essay

    “If a photographer says he is not a voyeur, he is an idiot.”


    Over his decades-long career, Helmut Newton created a style marked by an unabashed and gloriously decadent sexuality, presenting his female subjects as invincible Amazons liberated from centuries-old mores to strut to their own beat. Unsurprisingly, having been raised in an afluent, liberal Jewish home during Berlin’s roaring 1920s, Newton approached the field of photography with a deep love for women, a tight bracing of the avant-garde and vivid memories of grand vacations taken at Europe’s most luxurious spots. In his wish to distinguish himself as a photographer, Newton carved a path circumventing the fashion photography of the 1950s and 1960s, be it the exuberant grace of Richard Avedon, the conservative sweetness of Norman Parkinson or the timeless elegance of Irving Penn. By doing so, Newton created a style that was revolutionary for its era, defying the expectations of designers and fashion enthusiasts alike. Indeed, fashion impresario Karl Lagerfeld has noted that Newton’s images
    “have survived better than the fashion they were meant to represent or illustrate.”

    In Woman Observing Man, St. Tropez, 1975, Newton presents his female subject seated, relaxed, confident, her legs splayed as she inspects the semi-clad man standing nearby. While her demeanor is masculine in its traditional near-predatory body language, the male subject’s passive standing, and more so, the absence of his face from the image, relegates him to the traditional feminine role of sex object. The woman depicted is in control of her sexuality but without a trace of self-restraint; engaging and domineering without a trace of vulgarity. Her seduction of the man is calculating, deliberate and assertive. Newton presents her as the emblem of a new era, one that called for the liberation of women, imbuing them with a formerly negated sense of empowerment that is undeniably and seductively compelling.

  • Artist Biography

    Helmut Newton

    German • 1920 - 2004

    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.

    View More Works


Woman Observing Man, Saint-Tropez

Gelatin silver print, printed 1980s.
23 x 15 3/8 in. (58.4 x 39.1 cm)
Signed, titled and dated in pencil on the verso. Number 3 from an edition of 10.

$50,000 - 70,000 

Sold for $74,500

Contact Specialist
Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs
+ 1 212 940 1245


3 April 2013
New York