Speak UpA Former Division of UnderConsideration
The Archives, August 2002 – April 2009
advertise @ underconsideration
---Click here for full archive list or browse below
“Take Off Your Clothes and Sit on the Top of that Table”

Helmut Newton was quoted regarding a persistent and adoring fan that pleaded to do anything to have her photo taken in a French cafe.

Helmut Newton (1920 — 2004)

Helmut Newton died last weekend in Los Angeles. He was considered by many to be one of the top photographers of the 20th Century. Newton was synonymous with his contribution through photography to the great western motif of the Nude. He was a long time star photographer for Vogue Magazine through his ice cold fashion photography. I can’t imagine the 1980s without him. And his contribution to our visual world via fashion, commercial photography and art has been extraordinary.

“Anyone who would dress up in drag or photograph himself nude in recovery from heart surgery is a friend of mine.” — Eric Kroll

His work has long been a sort of Maginot Line between the sensualist and sexist camps for female imagery. It saddens me as he was one of the strongest proponents of the Female Nude and Feminism.

From a brilliant bio by JG Ballard

“I will only say that critics who tremble so fiercely at the thought of the voyeuristic male gaze miss the point that distance generates mystery and enchantment, and expresses the awe with which the male imagination regards all women, as we see so clearly in Newton’s photographs. Far from debasing his models (most of whom are not naked), Newton places them at the heart of a deep and complex drama where they rule like errant queens, blissfully indifferent to the few men who dare to approach them.”

We are now on the eve of the month for amour fou. It is an unfortunate coincidence to take this time to remember such a masterful commercial artist and unashamed hedonist.

The Washington Post’s obit offers, “Technically, his work was always glossy, pretty, perfect. But his subject matter was often raw, disconcerting and unnerving. He explored the darker side of sexuality — the place where pleasure, pain, joy and anger all converge. Newton reveled in nudity — not the soft and sensual curves of the body, but the hard angles and planes of it. His models would not be turned shyly away from a camera and their bodies would not be romanticized into something abstract and dreamy. Instead, breasts, torsos, legs and buttocks were defiantly on display.”

Additional Newton images can be seen at

Newton Retrospective

Newton Autoerotic

Newton via Taschen

Newton Links

Newton Berlin

Newton via Spectator

“Nothing has been retouched, nothing electronically altered. I photographed what I saw.” - Helmut Newton

Maintained through our ADV @ UnderConsideration Program
ARCHIVE ID 1803 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Jan.30.2004 BY E. Tage Larsen
Todd W.’s comment is:

It just stuck me that Newton's aesthetic sensiblities provide a neat shorthand for the fee-wheeling Weimar Berlin of the '20s and early '30s. Along with Ellen Von Unwerth. The current, soon-to-close, revival of Cabaret owes a big debt to his aesthetic. As does Chicago.

On Jan.30.2004 at 01:11 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

I also think that many contemporary and celebrity photographers were heavily influenced by Newton. Sally Mann and Annie Leibowitz are just two that come to mind, albeit in very different ways: Mann for the way she portrays a raw and honest sexuality in her work and Leibowitz for the "now-ness" and "in-your-face-ness."

I find it interesting that the artists mentioned by both Todd and myself are women. And that the choreographer of Cabaret is, as well (Anne Reinking).

I'll never forget the day I first saw the book Helmut Newton: Portraits. Made my knees weak.

On Jan.30.2004 at 02:08 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

from a Bob Fosse biography on the British Film Institute's website:

His (Fosse's) signature movements can be seen in the choreography of the hit revival of Kander and Ebb's Chicago.�The raised eyebrows, shrugged shoulders and dazzling legs are pure Fosse.�The show was choreographed by Fosse protégée Anne Reinking (Grace Farrell in Annie (1981)) and is very a much a tribute to his distinctive style.

On Jan.30.2004 at 02:18 PM
debbie millman’s comment is:

Re my previous post: please sub Chicago for Cabaret.

On Jan.30.2004 at 02:25 PM
eric’s comment is:

Though i've never read of a direct comparison, I’ve always enjoyed the verite illustration in the performances of Vanessa Beecroft that draw heavily from Newton’s heroic stoicism.

Beecroft homepage

Beecroft performance stills

Beecroft stills via artnet

Beecoft gagosian stills and bio

On Jan.30.2004 at 03:07 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

One contemporary of Newton worthy of more recognition in the States is Guy Bourdin. There's a similar air of detatchment and decadence in his work -- Marshall McLuhan would call it 'cool'.

I can see this 'cool' in Annie Leibowitz's mis-en-scene. Maybe it's the persistent 'celebrity'... but in comparison, Newton and Bourdin's work have an objective ruthlessness. And that's the element in their work that has greater resonance -- to me, at least -- over any formal innovation.

On Jan.30.2004 at 03:50 PM
eric’s comment is:

Mark, I've never been a Leibowitz fan as the work is clean but lifeless to my eyes. Thanks for the introduction to Bourdin. A bit coy for my tastes but nice work.

"Beauty is not pretty" - Erwin Blumenfeld

On Jan.30.2004 at 04:07 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

Coy? And Newton isn't?

Points taken off.

But points replaced for quoting Blumenfeld.

On Jan.30.2004 at 04:58 PM
Bradley’s comment is:

I was devastated at the news of Newton's passing, but I take some solace in the fact that there are a number of working photographers who carry on his legacy of exploration and raw creativity--shooters like Steven Klein, Erwin Olaf, Meisel, Terry Richardson, and Mario Testino are all wonderful in their own rights and will continue what Newton in a way really started.

On Jan.30.2004 at 08:25 PM
big steve’s comment is:


On Jan.31.2004 at 04:57 AM