Helmut Newton, Australian/German, 1920–2004
Rich Girl, From Private Property Suite II, c. 1982
Gelatin silver print
10.8 x 10.8 in. (27.43 x 27.43 cm.)
Frequently depicting nude subjects in high heels, Newton instead hones in on the shoes themselves in the present work from Private Property Suite II. Beginning an exploration of what high heels represent in society, he investigates the way class presents itself through footwear. Newton later went on to photograph x-rays of feet in high heels and even donning a pair in his famed self-portrait. More on this photograph
Helmut Newton was born on October 31, 1920, in Berlin, Germany. He attended the American School in Berlin. From an early age, Newton developed a keen obsession with photography, purchasing his very first camera aged 12. Four years later, Newton was to turn his back on mainstream education, taking an apprenticeship with renowned German photographer, Elsle Simon, known as Yva. Her surreal, multiple exposure photographs that took in fashion, theater and the nude were to inspire Newton throughout his career.
On November 9, 1938, Newton, secured passage to China, where he stopped in Singapore until 1940 before leaving to Australia and finding work as a truck driver in the Australian Army.
In 1948, he married actress June Browne, herself a photographer under the name of Alice Springs, a name she chose from a map of Australia. High-profile contracts with Australian Vogue in the 1950’s; British Vogue in 1957-1958; French Vogue in 1961 provided Newton with the exposure that would allow him to stamp his style on fashion photography over the next 40 years.
Known as the ‘King of Kink’, Newton’s erotically charged imagery was provocative as it was masterful in its compositional and narrative direction. Creating highly charged images layered with voyeuristic, sado-masochist undertexts, Newton was drawn to empowered woman presenting a potent image of female sexuality in the 60’s and 70’s.
Newton died, aged 83, in 2004 following a major car accident in Los Angeles. More on Helmut Newton
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