Helmut Newton (Germany 1920 - 2004)


Notorious for pushing the boundaries of the fashion industry with his distinctive imagery, Helmut Newton has become an icon in the history of photography. Born in 1920 in Berlin, Helmut Neustädter expressed an interest in photography at an early age. After fleeing Germany in 1938, his family relocated to Singapore where he found work as a photographer. Soon thereafter, Newton was interned to Australia where he served the Australian army for five years, at which point he became eligible for Australian citizenship. He changed his name to Helmut Newton in 1946.

Newton’s fashion photography is often characterized as obsessive and subversive, and his style is undoubtedly unique. His artistic inspirations include film noir, Expressionist cinema, and surrealism, resulting in radical, edgy and racy compositions. While based in Paris in the 1950s and 60s, he worked for Vogue Paris, Playboy, and Elle, among other publications, establishing his international reputation and defining his signature style that straddled the line between art and commerce. Newton sought out elaborate turn-of-the century mansions and hotels in which to stage his models, resulting in a bold and exquisite body of work. He consistently challenged convention combining glamour with his dramatic lighting and provocative narratives.

With an incredible career spanning over five decades, Newton worked as an editorial photographer for several fashion magazines, he published many volumes of his photography, and has been featured in solo and group exhibitions worldwide. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the globe including the International Center of Photography, New York; Foto Foundation, Amsterdam; Fotografiska Museet, Stockholm; and the Jewish Museum of Australia, to name a few. Newton was also awarded the French Grand Prix National de la Photographie in 1990 and a commendation to the Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture in 1996, among other honors.

Prior to his death in 2004, Newton established the Helmut Newton Foundation dedicated to the presentation and preservation of his images and those of his wife, June Newton. The Foundation thrives today as a dynamic exhibition space in the heart of Berlin.