Monday 22nd May 2017

Hallo Herr Newton!

The first I heard of Helmut Newton´s arrival in Stockholm was when I (randomly) found myself in Sweden´s bible belt, so bored over breakfast that I picked up the local Swedish newspaper – FYI, I don’t speak Swedish – and found myself confronted with the shocking headline: ¨Helmut Newton: Photographer or Pornographer¨ which in Swedish even I understood.

After I had gotten over my shock indeed – which was rather more aimed at the fact that someone in the 21st Century could still be outraged by Newton´s work – I skidaddled out of middle Sweden as fast as I could and headed straight to the Fotografiska Museet which, as the name suggests, is Stockholm´s foremost museum for photography.

The Fotografiska – in collaboration with Newton´s wife June – has put on a show of his work comprising a wide range, both in subject matter and chronologically, as well as screening the 2004 documentary Helmut by June, whose title is rather self-explanatory as to the subject matter. Whilst there were iconic photographs a plenty – think a young Catherine Deneuve clutching her breast with a cigarette hanging out of her mouth – there were also many others that shone an altogether different light on his work, for those of us who were not old enough in the 80s to have been fully immersed in his style at the time.

Newton´s portraits of the great and good in business and politics show a softness and nuance to his photography that allows their personalities to come forth, with a subtlety that is add odds with the images of strong women that were to become his hallmark. Earlier fashion shoots from the 1960s show where the seeds of these women were sown, but had not yet fully bloomed into the amazons they were to become.

As his style evolved, the constant throughout is his perfect capturing of the Zeitgeist with each shot. Inspired by film-noir, S&M, expressionist cinema and surrealism these have combined to become the visual ties throughout his many years, all perfectly shown off in this exhibition.

Hallo Herr Newton indeed!

 

 

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