Jeff Coons and Cicciolina, Italy 1991, © Helmut Newton Estate
Exhibition | 31.05.2008 EXTENDED UNTIL 1.02.2009

Helmut Newton

Photographies
“Bullshit! I love the girls. This is all a feminist misunderstanding.” This was Helmut Newton’s response several years ago to Alice Schwarzer, editor-in-chief of EMMA magazine, accusing him and his nude photographs of being sexist, even racist. Newton was used to rejection. His meticulously staged photographs with their consciously displayed sexuality had always provoked society. In the 1960s, his pictures broke all the rules of traditional fashion photography, evoked a new image of women, and for this reason made him into the most famous and most well paid photographer of the twentieth century. The Weserburg is honoring Newton’s pioneering creative work with a comprehensive exhibition: around 120 works from numerous private and museum collections will be displayed on about 750 square meters of exhibition space.

The Weserburg is honoring Newton’s pioneering creative work with a comprehensive exhibition: works from a private Bremen collection will be displayed for the first time ever in this from on about 750 square meters of exhibition space. This presentation was made possible through the generous funding provided by the Sparkasse Bremen, the Senate of Culture of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen, the Bremer Marketing Gesellschaft, the Weser Kuriers, and Radio Bremen

Helmut Newton: Photographs expands the wide spectrum of work by the revolutionary fashion and nude photographer. In addition to the large-format, life-size Big Nudes, which Newton was inspired to create after seeing life-size wanted-person photographs of RAF terrorists, there are also pictures from a variety of series by the artist in which he declined the determining motifs of his artistic fantasy: suspense-laden scenes in a hotel, in the city at night that suggest they are part of a cinematic narrative are displayed alongside portraits of stars from the dazzling world of glamour. The photographer of the beautiful and the famous, who worked for the largest fashion magazines in the world, never remained within the narrow confines of commissioned work, rather he used the fashion industry as a stage. “With his staged photographs, Newton put the self-confident sexuality of women in the picture in a revolutionary way,” says Carsten Ahrens, director of the Weserburg. “The women in these photographs never appear as the object of male power but as masters of their own sexuality. Despite all the hostility directed at him from clerics and the middle-class as well as from important feminists, he evoked a new image of women that is characterized by an emancipated self-confidence.”

The exhibition also provides insight into Helmut Newton’s eventful life—born in 1920 in Berlin as the son of Jewish parents, thanks to his spirited mother he escaped Germany in 1938, traveling first to Singapore and then to Australia. With little money and big dreams, at the end of the 1950s Newton returned to Europe with his wife, June, first to London and then to Paris, where his great career began as a photographer for Vogue, Elle, and Queen. Newton found the definitive motifs for his work in the red-light district of the city. His first books—White Women, Sleepless Nights, Big Nudes—which were published in the 1970s, place him among the ranks of artistic photographers. The couple lived in Monaco and Los Angeles until a tragic car accident suddenly ended Helmut Newton’s life in January 2004.


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