HELMUT NEWTON LEGACY. At the Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien
Helmut Newton's photographs are provocative, daring, bold, feminine, sensual, sexual, seductive, powerful, glamorous, controversial and fetishistic. They are inspired by film noir, expressionism, surrealism, ancient mythology but also the subculture of fetishism and the aesthetic of Leni Riefenstahl. The creator of some of the most iconic images in the history of photography leaves no one indifferent - especially with his portraits of women.
The Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien is now celebrating the 100th birthday of Helmut Newton (1920-2004) with the major retrospective "Helmut Newton Legacy." The exhibition was created in cooperation with the Helmut Newton Foundation Berlin and curated by Matthias Harder (Helmut Newton Foundation Berlin) and Evelyn Benesch (Bank Austria Kunstforum).
Based on approximately 300 works, it provides a comprehensive overview of the work of the photographer born as Helmut Neustädter in Berlin.
Helmut Newton bought his first camera at the age of 12. At the age of 16 he was already working with the German photographer Elsie Neuländer Simon, known as YVA.
He was the son of a Jewish couple who ran a button factory. Until the Nazis seized the family business, he spent his childhood surrounded by luxury and glamour. This obviously influenced his attitude towards fashion. After a brief incarceration in a concentration camp, the family left Germany, his parents fled to Argentina, and Helmut Newton traveled by ship from Trieste to China. During a stopover in Singapore, he was offered the opportunity to stay and took a job as a photographer for the Singapore Straits Times. After leaving Singapore to move to Australia and serving five years in the Australian Army, Helmut Newton met and married actress June Brunell and opened a studio in Melbourne, where he began his work as a fashion, theater and commercial photographer. His reputation as a photographer grew after he was commissioned to shoot a fashion special in an Australian supplement of Vogue in 1956. This earned him a contract with British Vogue, which he later left to move to Paris. He then stuck with fashion photography and became one of the most recognized photographers in the industry, working constantly for the various issues of Vogue.
Newton developed his own style in Paris in the 1960s, staging his models in cinematic-looking settings and suggesting underlying stories behind the images. This ambivalence was new in the world of haute couture at the time. In addition to all the covers they were featured on, Helmut Newton's work was exhibited in the world's most important museums and galleries, among others.
In the 1980s, Newton turned to nude photography. The women portrayed and their powerfully sensual appearance was a visual language that gave his photographs a controversial character and still raises questions about social and moral boundaries today.
Away from his most famous controversial "scandal photos," however, Newton continued to develop his visual language, as visitors to the exhibition can see from works from the 1990s and early 2000s.
For the public, the iconic nudes will probably be the best-known works in the show at the Bank Austria Kunstforum, but there is also an interesting collection of portraits on display, with models such as Mick Jagger, Andy Warhol, Charlotte Rampling and Romy Schneider. (written by Cem Angeli)
"Helmut Newton Legacy" at Bank Austria Kunstforum Vienna, October 19-January 15, 2023. The multilingual exhibition catalog "Helmut Newton Legacy," edited by the Helmut Newton Foundation, Taschen Verlag, 424 pages, costs 80 euros.
Bank Austria Kunstorum Wien | www.kunstforumwien.at
A CastYourArt Production | www.castyourart.com