FOAM in Amsterdam had a retrospective exhibit on Helmut Newton, fashion, art, fetish and erotic photographer from the last century. I wanted to visit it, and it ran till september 4th, so yesterday we went for a visit, unfortunately for you, my readers, its over.
I had an autobiography on Helmut Newton since a couple of years now I guess, and I quit reading it for I got a little annoyed, even irritated by the rather arrogant, selfish, non woman-friendly narratives in this book. (Helmut Newton Autoportrait, by Robert Laffont).
Anyway, I still love his work, his way of depicting strong, beautiful women, and his way of combining fashion photography with daring eroticism, both implied and explicit.
The exhibit had a fine collection of prints, starting with his 60’s fashion work (that made me think a lot about a long time favourite of mine: Jean-Loup Sieff), over the more erotically oriented images in his long collaboration with Vogue, his personal work with protheses and nude women, his impressive ‘big nudes’ and finally his extensive list of portraits of famous people.
Especially interesting I found the film montage, made by his wife June, which gave a very intimate insight in the life and working atmosphere in which Newton, his wife and his entourage moved along. Not the spoiled kid he talks about in his biography, but a rather playful, humorist, (hard) working, focused photographer. It surprised me that some people started sniggering when he was instructing his models into a certain pose, and that made me think about how little is known about this kind of photography, this kind of dialogue between photographer and model, to people who are not part of this world. We discussed about it (Nathalie and me) and she decided she should film me when I’m working with my models. – GOOD IDEA! –
I was rather pleased to see so many people visit this exhibition (Sunday being the last day might have been a factor) and especially to see so many women around. This makes me think the perception of Helmut Newton being an ‘objectifier’ of women is not a general one.
His work is inspirational to me, it has long been underestimated from the photographic art scene, and it probably still is, it was daring in its time, and it still is daring to tackle the nude subject in our times, so not much has changed. There’s a lot of work to do, and its a tough job, but someone has got to do it, so let’s get going. 🙂
some impressions, © of the depicted images is Helmut Newton of course.
Thank you for reading,