Homage to Helmut Newton
HOMAGE A HELMUT NEWTON
Helmut Newton was born born as "Helmut Neustädter" 1920 – 2004
of a Jewish family in Berlin
He was a prolific, widely imitated German fashion photographer whose provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photos were a mainstay of Vogue and other publications. During his carere he established a particular style marked by erotic, stylised scenes, often with sado-masochistic and fetishistic subtexts
with reflection of Nazi Germany where he grow up. He often portrayed stylish scenes with naked or half naked prostitutes and sexual encounters in luxury hotels. Mostly in a strong black and white film noir style.
Interested in photography from the age of 12 when he purchased his first camera, he worked for the German photographer Yva (Elsie Neuländer Simon) from 1936 during the NSDAP years who came to power in 1933. Yva 1900 –1944) was the professional pseudonym of Else Ernestine Neuländer-Simon who was a German Jewish photographer renowned for her dreamlike, multiple exposed images. As one of the first photographers who recognized the commercial potential of photography, she became a leading photographer in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. When the Nazi Party came to power, she was forced into working as a radiographer. She was deported by the Gestapo in 1942 and murdered, probably in the Majdanek concentration camp during World War II.
The increasingly oppressive restrictions placed on Jews by the Nuremberg laws meant that his father lost control of the factory in which he manufactured buttons and buckles; he was briefly interned in a concentration camp on Kristallnacht, 9 November 1938, which finally compelled the family to leave Germany. Newton's parents fled to Argentina.He was issued with a passport just after turning 18 and left Germany on 5 December 1938. At Trieste he boarded the Conte Rosso (along with about 200 others escaping the Nazis), intending to journey to China. After arriving in Singapore he found he was able to remain there, first briefly as a photographer for the Straits Times and then as a portrait photographer.Newton was interned by British authorities while in Singapore and was sent to Australia on board the Queen Mary, arriving in Sydney on 27 September 1940. Internees travelled to the camp at Tatura, Victoria, by train under armed guard. He was released from internment in 1942 and briefly worked as a fruit picker in Northern Victoria. In August 1942, he enlisted with the Australian Army and worked as a truck driver.
After the war in 1945, he became a British subject and wanted to have a more British sounding name. He felt it had to be NEW and as he had fallen to the land downunder like an apple he thought of Isaac Newton who also invented a photo telescope and so Helmut changed his name to “Newton” in 1946.
In his later life, Newton lived in both Monte Carlo and Los Angeles, California where he wintered at the Chateau Marmont, which he had done every year since 1957. On the 23 January 2004 suffered a serious heart-attack while driving his automobile down Marmont Lane from the Chateau Marmont to Sunset Boulevard. He was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he died. His ashes are buried three plots down from the grave of Marlene Dietrich at the Städtischer Friedhof III in Berlin.
Some of my NEW-ton photomontages are humorous in nature and at the same time making a comment on the global situation right now. I have for that reason used more or less the same group of indifferent naked models to represent the humans as we are naked from birth naked in death. Everything else is cosmetics and uniforms.
I have on purpose used the same set of nude images and repeated them over and over again the way Warhol did to simulate supermarket products, made for mass consumption.
The second part is using some nudes of Helmut done to shock the viewer, based on his life story in Nazi Germany and the fate of his mentor the Jewish Phoptographer Yva and at least 7 million other Jews. Anti semnetism is on its rise again and with this in mind having worked with telling the true story of the Holocaust " SHOAH " for now 45 years and being represented on the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC and in the ambulent Anne Frank exhibition, and having exhibited at the first Holocaust conference in Stockholm opened by Elie Wiesel.
I have in this project dared to use Helmut’s nudes to bring to mind the many naked bodies of women and men and children being brought to slaughter by the Nazis. These images are very strong and scary but for a purpose I find justified.
Helmut himself was strongly inspired by the photography of his youth during the Weimar Republic and later the years under Nazy rule, with artists like Leni Reifenstahl, Man Ray, Pierre Molinier, and Fritz Lang, to mention a few inspirations for Helmut’s style.
Helmut used to say I quote " I Hate Good taste its the worst thing that can happen to a creative person " end of quote.
My conviction is that we need to wake up the millennium generation and pass on the history and learn from it not to lie about ,or destroy and erase it. And the knowledge of the Holocaust have to be told to as many people as possible. Of all races and religions. As Mr Wiesel said “We owe it to our children”
I met Helmut Newton in Paris 1971 through my girlfriend at the time Danielle David. Helmut wanted to photograph me with makeup dressed like a girl. I backed out as it was too daring for me at the age of 18. I do regret this today, as it would have been cool to have that photo.Later in my life I did Drag shows, but times have changed and so have we all.
Music: Warsaw Symphony by David Bowie