Helmut Newton - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 1, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Mexico

  • Literature

    Schirmer/Mosel, Helmut Newton: Private Property, for all
    Newton and Keller, Helmut Newton: Pages from the Glossies, various plates
    Taschen, Helmut Newton: Work, various plates
    Taschen, Helmut Newton, various plates

  • Catalogue Essay

    Helmut Newton’s early days as a fashion photographer for British, and later French Vogue in the 1950s and 1960s fall at the heels of his legendary contemporaries Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. By then the two American photographers had established their distinct visions, Penn as a timelessly elegant minimalist, Avedon as a high-wattage and dynamic luminary. Determined to mold a style that was undeniably his own, Newton blended a series of seemingly conflicting binaries, mixing high and low, nude and clothed, submissive and domineering, among others. The resulting style, uniquely Newton’s in its boldness, temptation and perfectionism, has since been continuously lauded as trailblazing by the fashion industry.

    Newton’s Private Property Suites I, II and III present a compilation of images that are part irreverent, part sardonic, and wholly unapologetic in their proud celebration of beauty, seduction and female empowerment. Each suite, comprised of 15 images hand-selected by Newton in 1984, presents superb examples of Newton’s distinctly flirtatious style, one that he meticulously chiseled over a decades-long career. “I hate good taste,” he once mused, “It’s the worst thing that can happen to a creative person.” The taste for which Newton expressed disdain is less about aesthetic parameters and more about the photographer’s relation to his subjects. Unsurprisingly, as a portrait photographer Newton believed that his job was to “seduce, amuse and entertain.” The forty-five images in the Private Property Suites I, II and III successfully fulfill Newton’s mission.

    Among the images are many of Newton’s iconic images, including Sie Kommen, taken from a low vantage point that imbues the four striding models with the unabashed pride of Amazons; Elsa Peretti, bunny, portraying the lauded jewelry designer, oil-fortune heiress and Halston muse in a titillating outfit as she luxuriates on her sprawling Manhattan terrace; Self-portrait with wife and models, Paris, which, with the aid of a handsome-sized mirror, conveys a rare glimpse of the behind-the-scenes power-collaboration between Newton and his wife, June; Two pairs of legs in black stockings, taken from a floor-level tilted angle befitting a candid camera, implying the hidden control exercised by its female protagonists; Office Love, Paris, cleverly turning the viewers into involuntary Peeping-Toms; and Woman examining man, U.S. Vogue, St. Tropez, in which the conventional gender hierarchy is subverted, situating the woman in full control as she playfully studies the male figure, reduced to a faceless if desired object. In all, Newton’s images indeed seduce, amuse and entertain.

    Upon finalizing the choice images for Private Property, Newton decided on an edition size of seventy-five. However, the edition was never realized in full, with no more than twenty-five printings made. The lowered edition size, in conjunction with the undeniable strength of the images, present a whole that far exceeds the sum of its parts. Indeed, the three suites are more than a collection of Newton’s best images. Rather, they are the quintessence of his formidable and irresistibly enticing legacy.

  • 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.

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Private Property: Suites I, II and III

45 gelatin silver prints, in three suites of 15 prints each, printed 1984.
Varying sizes from 10 x 10 in. (25.4 x 25.4 cm) to 9 1/2 x 14 1/2 in. (24.1 x 36.8 cm) or the reverse.
Each print signed, numbered 15/75, consecutively numbered 'I-III' and '1-15' in pencil and copyright credit reproduction limitation stamp on the verso. Each title page numbered 15/75 and consecutively numbered 'I-III' in ink. Each suite with colophon. Each suite contained in a cardboard archive box with printed title and enclosed in individual hard-shell carrying case with stenciled title. Each suite number 15 from an edition of 75 plus 10 artist's proofs lettered 'A-H'.

$350,000 - 450,000 

Sold for $389,000

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Vanessa Kramer Hallett
Worldwide Head, Photographs

Shlomi Rabi
Head of Sale, New York

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New York Auction 1 October