Vogue Italia celebrates the centenary of the birth of Helmut Newton
Helmut Newton. Epic of a rebellious genius, Vogue Italia celebrates the centenary of the birth of Helmut Newton, one of the greatest and most controversial fashion photographers of all time with a collection number.
The 31st of this month is the centenary of the birth of Helmut Newton. Decades after the date of publication, his portraits of strong, rich and emancipated women in stiletto heels, imbued with eroticism and obsessions, continue to amaze, polarize, fascinate, managing to speak to very different generations of spectators. In this interview Matthias Harder, director of the Foundation named after him in Berlin, introduces us to the rich and complex universe of the photographer, retracing the main stages of his private and professional life. From the beginnings to the most experimental and avant-garde phases of his entire career, through (apparently) impossible missions and great conquests. Helmut Neustädter – this is his first name – was born in Berlin in 1920 into a high-ranking German-Jewish family. He is very young when he realizes that when he grows up he would like to be a photographer. Rebelling against his father, who dreamed of a more bourgeois profession for his son, at sixteen he began an internship in the studio of Yva, the most famous fashion photographer in the Weimar Republic.
In his photographic studio in Melbourne, which he inaugurated in 1946, he meets the woman who will accompany him throughout his life, both private and working: the actress and photographer June Browne, aka Alice Springs. The professional collaboration between Helmut and June is an intense and fruitful love story that lasted 56 years. The book Us and Them (Taschen) tells us about it, an intimate photographic diary of their life together that spans five decades, and where many of the portraits they made of each other converged. Newton trusted June’s judgment blindly, and felt the need to consult frequently with her on a variety of work-related matters. We know with certainty that without his precious advice some of his most famous photographs would never have come to light. After her death in 2004, due to a car accident near the Chateau Marmont, she will be the one to take over the legacy and inspire the work of the Helmut Newton Foundation which, by mutual agreement, they had founded in Berlin the previous year . 1961 is considered the zero year of Newton’s career. He moves with his wife to Paris and starts collaborating with Vogue Paris: here his unique and irreverent style will really take shape.
Helmut Newton, “Self-portrait with Wife and Models” (Paris 1981). © Krause & Johansen
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