silver gelatin print
Lisa Lyon by Helmut Newton
From the Classic Portfolio
Helmut Newton, a German-Australian photographer, was a “prolific, widely imitated fashion photographer whose provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photos were a mainstay of Vogue and other publications. His Classic Portfolio is a collection of 10 iconic Newton images
Lisa Lyon by Helmut Newton
Photographer Helmut Newton (German, 1920–2004) is most famous for his work as a fashion photographer, frequently creating work for Vogue magazine, and for his provocative, studied photographs of nudes. Born to a Jewish family in Berlin in 1920, Newton received his first camera at 12 years old, often neglecting his studies in school to pursue photography. It is reputed that Newton first became enamored with the female nude as a photographic subject as a teenager, while working as an apprentice to a theater photographer in Berlin. He fled increasing Nazi oppression in Germany in 1938, and worked in Singapore and Australia during World War II, serving in the Australian army for several years. He later opened up a photography studio, and moved to Europe in the 1950s. In Paris he began working for French Vogue, and later Playboy, Elle, and other publications during the 1950s and 1960s as his reputation grew, traveling frequently throughout the world on assignments. Known for the dramatic lighting and the unconventional poses of his models in his photographs, Newton’s work has been characterized as obsessive and subversive, incorporating themes of sadomasochism, prostitution, violence, and a persistently-overt sexuality into the narratives of his images.
Newton challenged conventions, and created a provocative, hybrid photography that embraced fashion, erotica, portrait, and documentary elements, producing a highly stylized interpretation of elegant and decadent ways of life. Newton turned his attention to making powerful, confrontational nudes. He conceived witty, erotic picture stories for the American magazine Oui, and he gave his unique twist to the creation of pictures for Playboy.Portraits of celebrities became an evermore important aspect of Newton’s work, and while these were at first mostly related to the world of fashion, over the years he broadened his portfolio to include countless people who intrigued him-artists, actors, film directors, politicians, industrial magnates, the powerful and the charismatic from all spheres. Many of these photos were published through the 1980s in Vanity Fair.
Over the next twenty-five years he worked steadily and productively, publishing a series of books and creating countless exhibitions.Newton was highly sought after until the end of his life. He died of injuries from a car accident at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, California in 2004. Shortly before his death he had established the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, Germany, and donated approximately one thousand of his works to his native city.