Helmut Newton. A Gun for Hire
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Shooting Beauties: the fashion photography of Helmut Newton
"Carte Blanche" for the commissioned works between art and commerce
Helmut Newton did not distinguish compositionally or stylistically between his magazine work and assignments for commercial clients. He ironically referred to himself as “a gun for hire.” That was also the title of June Newton's legendary book about his commercial photography, which is now available in a new edition revised by the Helmut Newton Foundation.
"Some people's photography is an art. Mine is not. If they happen to be exhibited in a gallery or a museum, that's fine. But that's not why I do them. I'm a gun for hire," Helmut Newton told Newsweek in 2004. This prosaic proclamation from one of the 20th century's most celebrated photographers may be perceived as shocking. Still it firmly positions Newton as the no-frills image-maker that he was. His work is so powerful and striking, that it defies categorization. In refusing to call his work "art," Newton leaves us free to do so. Judging from the amount of museum and gallery shows that have featured his work, it is clear that the option has been widely exercised.
A Gun for Hire brings together a selection of Newton's fashion catalog work from the early 1960s to 2003 including work for BiBA (the first fashion catalog in 1962), Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Thierry Mugler, Blumarine, Villeroy & Boch and Absolut Vodka, as well as his last editorial photographs for US and Italian Vogue — encompassing the body of work he made as a "gun for hire."
With an introduction by Matthias Harder and statements by Pierre Bergé, Tom Ford, Josephine Hart, June Newton, and Anna Wintour.
Client list: BiBA, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, Versace, Thierry Mugler, Blumarine, Italian Vogue, US Vogue, German Vogue, Villeroy & Boch, Bikini Calendar for Sportsmagazin, Absolut Vodka
About the photographer:
Helmut Newton (1920-2004) was one of the most influential fashion photographers of all time. Born in Berlin, he arrived in Australia in 1940 and married June Brunell (a.k.a. Alice Springs) eight years later. He achieved international fame in the 1970`s while working principally for French Vogue, and over the next three decades, his celebrity and influence continued to grow. Eschewing studios, for the most part, Newton preferred to shoot in the streets or in interiors. His mixture of controversial scenarios, bold lighting, and striking compositions came to form his signature look. In 1990 he was awarded the "Grand Prix National" for photography; in 1992 was awarded by the German government "Das Grosse Verdienstkreuz" for his services to German culture and was appointed "Officer des Arts, Lettres et Sciences" by S.A.S. Princess Caroline of Monaco. In 1996, he was appointed "Commandeur de l`Ordre des Arts et des Lettres" by Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French Minister of Culture. Working and living in close companionship with his wife until his death at 83, through his last click of the shutter he continued to be as distinctive and influential as ever.