The current exhibition from the Helmut Newton Foundation, which had its first showing in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, is dedicated to Newton's first three legendary publications. These early photographs, many of which went on to achieve iconic status, stand on the cusp between fashion and nude photography and were never shown together in his own lifetime.
His first book, released with the title 'White Women', appeared surprisingly late in life, in 1976, when Newton was already 56. By the mid-1970s Newton had already laid the groundwork for his startling idea of presenting contemporary fashion with clothed and undressed models in the form of diptychs, in a style that culminated somewhat later in his famous series 'Big Nudes' and 'Naked and Dressed'.
His sophisticated eye and sense of perfection were also evident in the way he arranged the black-and-white and colour shots gathered together in his second book 'Sleepless Nights'. This publication was again all about women, their bodies and clothes; many of the shots are not merely fashion images, but portraits at the same time, while some could even be shots recording the scenes of a crime: motifs that later would count as some of Newton's iconic works.
By his third book, 'Big Nudes', Helmut Newton had secured his place at the top of the photographic canon once and for all: since its release in 1981 the book has never been out of print and has enjoyed a print run into the hundred-thousands. It is currently published by various publishers and in various languages around the world. With the female nudes published in the book, Newton broke new territory and opened up a new dimension in the image of humanity presented in photography.
Helmut Newton Stiftung
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