Best known for his influential role as a fashion photographer for publications such as Vogue during the 50s and 60s, Helmut Newton changed the way female nudes were portrayed in photography. He managed to capture provocation and eroticism without being a pervert.
He pushed the boundaries of an otherwise prudish society and showed us a combination of nudity, art and perfection – and did so in a tasteful and undeniably beautiful manner that no photographer, in my opinion, has since been able to emulate.
The difference was that Newton allowed the viewer to glimpse into the otherwise private lives of his sitters. At times, it was almost like you knew what they were thinking. He once said he had no interest in the inner life of his sitters, ‘just their bosoms, bums and legs’, yet a Newton photograph almost always captured private moments and lives that were surely never meant for public critique.
Newton’s photos tell a story. They leave you wanting more – what just happened? What happens next? I find myself giving a woman in his portrait a name, a job and a story. A rare gift – being able to create identities from nothing more than a ‘bosom, bum and leg’…
Here’s to Helmut Newton….
Words: Kelley Barriball