Regarded as one of the most influential photographers of all time, Helmut Newton had transformed the world of fashion photography by providing it with narrative depth through his stylized, dreamlike scenes. Combining fashion, nudity, and beauty in daring compositions, he pioneered fashion photographs which were erotically charged.
Newton rose to prominence in the 1960s with provocative black-and-white photographs which eventually became the author’s trademark. Exploring voyeuristic, sadomasochistic and lesbian imagery in his work, he became one of the most controversial and talked about photographer of the time. For this subversive approach to his subject matter, he was nicknamed “The King of Kink”. His personal style was a combination of the feel of 1930s noir photojournalism with aspects of New Wave films.
Over the course of his career, Newton contributed to some of the most renowned magazines, including Playboy, Queen, Nova, Marie-Claire, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and the American, Italian and German editions of Vogue. Although he continued to work commercially throughout his life, he began creating more personal work during the 1970s, experimenting with erotic pictorialism and later developing an interest in portraiture.
At the end of 2003, Newton established the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, Germany, and donated approximately one thousand of his works to his native city. The Foundation is dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and presentation of the photographic works of Helmut and his wife June Newton, who under the name of Alice Springs has also produced a significant body of portraiture photography since 1970.
Through hybrid photography which embraced fashion, erotica, portrait, and documentary elements, Newton continuously challenged conventions, offering a highly stylized interpretation of elegant and decadent ways of life.
Helmut Newton was born in Berlin in 1920 as Helmut Neustaedter, leaving the country in 1938 amidst the rise of Fascism. During his life, he lived in Singapore, Melbourne, London, Paris, and California. He died of injuries from a car accident at the Chateau Marmont in Hollywood, California in 2004.