Photographer Helmut Newton (German, 1920–2004) is most famous for his work as a fashion photographer, frequently creating work for Vogue magazine, and for his provocative, studied photographs of nudes. Born to a Jewish family in Berlin in 1920, Newton received his first camera at 12 years old, often neglecting his studies in school to pursue photography. It is reputed that Newton first became enamored with the female nude as a photographic subject as a teenager, while working as an apprentice to theater photographer Yva in Berlin. He fled increasing Nazi oppression in Germany in 1938, shortly after Kristallnacht, and worked in Singapore and Australia during World War II, serving in the Australian army for several years. He later opened up a photography studio, and moved to Europe in the 1950s. In Paris he began working for French Vogue, and later Playboy, Elle, and other publications during the 1950s and 1960s as his reputation grew, traveling frequently throughout the world on assignments. Known for the dramatic lighting and the unconventional poses of his models in his photographs, Newton’s work has been characterized as obsessive and subversive, incorporating themes of sadomasochism, prostitution, violence, and a persistently-overt sexuality into the narratives of his images. He increasingly focused more on these images rather than fashion photography in the 1970s, emphasizing the aggressive and incendiary in his works. He continued to travel later in life, dividing his time between his homes in Monte Carlo and Los Angeles. In 2003, he died in a car crash in Los Angeles, at 84 years old. Among other honors, Newton received the German Kodak Award for Photographic Books, a Life Legend Award from Life magazine, and an award from the American Institute for Graphic Arts for his photographs.

Timeline

1920
Born Helmut Neustädter in Berlin, Germany
1928–1932
Studied at Heinrich von Treitschke Realgymnasium, Berlin, Germany
1933–1935
Studied at the American School, Berlin, Germany
1936–1940
Was an apprentice to Eva (Else Simon), a theater and fashion photographer in Berlin, Germany
1976
Recipient, the Best Photography Award from the Art Directors Club in Tokyo, Japan
1977
Recipient, the American Institute of Graphic Arts Award
1978
Recipient, the Gold Medal from the Art Directors Club in Germany
1979
Recipient, the Gold Medal from the Art Directors Club in Germany
1980
Recipient, the American Institute of Graphic Arts Award
2004
Died in Los Angeles, USA

Exhibitions

2012
Helmut Newton, Galeries nationales du Grand Palais, Paris, France (solo)
Private Property, Galerie Sho Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan
2011
Helmut Newton: White Women - Sleepless Nights - Big Nudes, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston, USA
Selected Works, Hamiltons Gallery, London, England
2009
A Gun for Hire, Fundación Caixa Galicia, La Coruña, Spain (solo)
2007
Wanted, Helmut Newton, Larry Clark, Ralph Gibson at the Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Helmut Newton XL, Hamiltons Gallery, London, England (solo)
2006
Sex & Landscapes, Palazzo Reale, Milan, Italy (solo)
Yellow Press / Playboy Projections, Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Men, War & Peace, Newton, Nachtwey, LaChapelle, Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2005
A Gun for Hire, Grimaldi Forum, Monaco (solo)
A Gun for Hire, Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Sex & Landscapes, Kunsthalle der Hypo-Kulturstiftung, Munich, Germany (solo)
2004
Sex & Landscapes / Yellow Press, Retretti Art Centre, Helsinki, Finland (solo)
Helmut Newton, Gagosian Gallery, Los Angeles, USA (solo)
Us & Them / Sex & Landscapes, Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Private Property, Permanent Museum at the Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin, Germany (solo)
2003
Sex & Landscapes, Gallery Joshua Mann Pailet, New Orleans, USA (solo)
Neue Galerie Graz, Graz, Austria (solo)
Sex & Landscapes / Yellow Press, ARKEN Museum for Moderne Kunst, Ishoj, Denmark (solo)
Sex & Landscapes, Aydan Gallery, Moscow, Russia (solo)
Sex & Landscapes, Schloss Bellevue, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Yellow Press, Carla Sozzani Gallery, Milan, Italy (solo)
Helmut Newton: Genuine Eyes, Gallery Sho Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
2002
Sex & Landscapes, Rupertinum Museum, Salzburg, Austria (solo)
Sex & Landscapes, Ludwig Museum, Budapest, Hungary (solo)
Sex & Landscapes, Galleria Gió Marconi, Milan, Italy (solo)
Yellow Press, de Pury & Luxembourg, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)
Helmut Newton Work, Photo Espana 2002, Madrid, Spain (solo)
Helmut Newton Work, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (solo)
2001
Sex & Landscapes, de Pury & Luxembourg, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)
Sex & Landscapes, Mary Boone Gallery, New York, USA (solo)
Helmut Newton Work, Barbican Centre, London, England (solo)
Helmut Newton Work, I.C.P, New York, USA (solo)
2000
Helmut Newton Work, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Helmut Newton Work, Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil (solo)
Helmut Newton Work, Museum Ludwig, Kunsthalle, Cologne, Germany (solo)
1999
Architecture & Pornographie, Gastello die Rivoli, Turin, Italy (solo)
Us and Them, Helmut Newton & Alice Springs. 50 Years together – Personal Photographs, Center for Contemporary Art, Stockholm, Sweden (solo)
Us and Them, Kunsthalle, Rotterdam, The Netherlands (solo)
Us and Them, MEP, Paris, France (solo)
Us and Them, Gallery Carla Sozzani, Milan, Italy (solo)
1998
Visa pour l’image 67 new portraits, Perpignan, France (solo)
Us and Them, Nikolay, Copenhagen Fotomuseet O dense, Copenhagen, Denmark (solo)
1997
Helmut Newton Photographien, Camera Work Gallery, Berlin, Germany (solo)
Helmut Newton in Sweden, Hasselblad Foundation at the Goteborg Museum, Sweden (solo)
1996
Helmut Newton: Photography, Navio Museum, Japan (solo)
Fashion and Fantasy, A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans, USA (solo)
1995
Archives de Nuit, Galerie Pierre Nouvion, Monte-Carlo, Monaco (solo)
Helmut Newton: Photography, Odakyu Museum, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
1994
Helmut Newton aus dem photographischen Werk, Fotomuseum, Winterthur, Switzerland (solo)
New Editions + Retrospective Prints, Gallery Sho Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan (solo)
1993
Helmut Newton aus dem photographischen Werk, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany (solo)
Fashion photographs: Acquisitions of Paris Audiovisuel, Centre Culturel Française de Rome, Rome, Italy (solo)