Helmut Newton

by Lizi Gegenava

20th century Austrian-German photographer Helmut Newton quickly acquired fame after his short time at British Vogue in 1956. Couple of years later, as he returned to Paris he took a job with French Vogue and occasionally with British Vogue. He is mostly known through his black and white erotic photos for Vogue as well as other publications. Each of his shots hinted to a obscure, sometimes violent, and sexually charged story behind it. By 1970s he gained worldwide reputation, although some people recognized his work as mere pornography. However, that did not impact his career and he continued working internationally.

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Beginning in the 1970s, he started using polaroids extensively. As he once stated in an interview, he was a very impatient person and using polaroids satisfied his urge to see his work immediately. So he used it both as a photography medium, as well as a type of sketch to test lighting and composition. He even pushing a book consisting solely of polaroids in 1992 named Pola Woman. 

What is unique about his polaroids, besides his style, are his notes written on the edges. The polaroids are also especially interesting to today’s viewer for their unique colors and aesthetic. Even though his polaroids were found controversial at the time, they have appeared in numerous magazines and signed ones even on art markets. Later in 2011, Taschen published another book containing only polaroid photos.

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The book images are selected by his widow, June Newton from the 2011 Exhibition Helmut Newton Polaroids at the Museum für Fotografie in Berlin. They capture a different side of his photo shoots in a very unique way.