Helmut Newton - ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales London Thursday, May 17, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Christie's, New York, Photographs including the Property of Allegheny College, 27 April 2004, lot 371
    Private Collection, Tokyo

  • Literature

    Max 1990 Calendar, Milan: Rizzoli, March, 1990, variant
    H. Newton, Archives du Nuit, Munich, Schirmer/Mosel, 1993, pl. 42, variant
    Helmut Newton: SUMO, Cologne: Taschen, 1999, n.p., variant
    Helmut Newton: Work, Cologne, Taschen, 2000, p. 227, variant

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘Some people’s photography is an art. Mine is not. If they happen to be exhibited in a gallery or a museum, that’s fine. But that’s not why I do them. I’m a gun for hire.’

    Helmut Newton, 2004

    In this provocative and erotically charged photograph by Helmut Newton, we are confronted by the quintessential Newton subject: a powerful nude woman wearing polished heels, lipstick, dark glasses and a net veil over her face, pointing a gun directly at the camera. She commands the space with an alluring and fantastical sensuality while projecting a calmly dominant and elegant air. By directing her gaze, and her gun, directly at us, Newton invites us to participate in the unfolding narrative of intrigue and seduction.

    This visually arresting image was taken in 1989 during a commissioned shoot for the first calendar published by Max, the glossy Italian monthly magazine. The 1990 Max calendar, featuring 12 models photographed by Newton, included a variant image with the same nude holding the gun down for the month of March. In comparing these two versions of Panoramic Nude with Gun, the present image with the gun pointing at you can be read as the in-the-moment shot and the published image with the gun down as the moment after. The Max calendar shoot took place at the Hotel Villa d’Este on Lake Como in Italy, considered to be one of the most beautiful examples of 16th century architecture. Newton had previously photographed there in 1975 and in 1980. The exclusivity of the location surely appealed to his desire to shoot in places ‘out of bounds for photographers’ (Helmut Newton: Work, 2000).

    Nearly a decade after his Big Nudes, Newton created his Panoramic Nudes using a panoramic camera. These vertical panoramas were his version of the panoramic view. The model’s elongated body and the tall trunks of the palm trees reinforce the verticality of the composition. Four panoramic nudes from the 1990 Max calendar, including the image with the gun down, were published and exhibited in 1992 for Archives de Nuit. All four were also realised in an edition of 10 and an edition of 3. The vertical panorama offered here measures 151.5 x 49.5 cm, which is the same size as the prints made in the edition of 3 of the published version. Newton has signed, titled and dated the verso of this print but it is not numbered. As of this writing, we do not know if this unpublished variant was realised in an edition and have not been able to locate any other prints of the image. This is a unique opportunity to rediscover this rare, possibly one-off, triumphant Panoramic Nude.

  • 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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Panoramic Nude with Gun, Villa d'Este, Como

Gelatin silver print, flush-mounted.
Image: 151.5 x 49.5 cm (59 5/8 x 19 1/2 in.)
Frame: 170 x 69 cm (66 7/8 x 27 1/8 in.)

Signed, titled and dated in pencil on the verso.

As of this writing, this work is the only known extant print of this unpublished variant.

£250,000 - 350,000 

Sold for £729,000

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+33 1 53 71 77 87

Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4098

ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales

London Auction 18 May 2018