Big Nudes Created by Helmut Newton the German Photographer

Helmut Newton catalogues in my library

If some painters were said to be famous for painting women, Helmut Newton (1920-2003) was famous as a photographer for women. The women in front of his camera are mature, independent and determined. I like the way he showed women. Compared with the famous portraitists of his generation, such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, his photographs of naked women may be controversial, but the effect will never be forgotten by anyone at present or in the next century.

Helmut Newton, Sumo

According to my understanding, Newton’s life can be divided into three parts: he was born in Berlin, and he escaped to Australia from the Nazis at a young age. After the war, he worked and lived in Paris, Los Angeles and other places. After his death in a car crash, his classics and brilliance have been exhibited in Helmut Newton Foundation all year round. Starting June 7, 2019, the organization has displayed more than 400 giant photographs of naked women. The exhibition originated in 1999 when the famous publishing house, Taschen printed an unprecedented book: Helmut Newton, Sumo. The book is 50*70 cm in size with over 400 photographs of naked women. The book was limited to 10,000 copies, accompanied by an iron bookshelf designed by Philippe Starck.

Helmut Newton catalogue Big Nudes in my library

In Helmut Newton, Sumo, Big Nudes, the Naked and the Dressed and several other photography series, the body of the model is perfectly presented in the scene, almost like classical sculpture, very divine. As early as the early 20th century, a French magazine La Culture Physique introduced the influence and correlation between photography and sculpture, specifically talking about the shape and curve shaping of men and women. Edmond Desbonnet, the founder and movement promoter, also printed his naked image in the advertisement, using the representation technique of simulated sculpture photography. The harmony of the overall figure proportion is crucial for him. The book Sculpture and Photography: Envisioning the Third Dimension written by Geraldine A. Johnson sorted out the high interest of photographers Edward Steichen, Man Ray and Walker Evans in sculpture photography in the early 20th century.

Examples from La Culture Physique

All these researches and history provided a new perspective for the sculpture in Newton’s photography. Like a marble sculpture, women stood freely on the outdoor stone steps or in the movie studio, with the style immediately extricating from eroticism. This was a trait that art critics rarely mentioned in the past. The model was no longer a delicate and beautiful woman in front of the mundane camera. Perhaps Newton, a German who shaped or emphasized women were equal to men.

Helmut Newton catalogue Big Nudes in my library

The late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld (1933-2019) and Newton were peers and from the same country. When he wrote the introduction to Newton’s photographs in the 1990s, he said: “ The picture that he makes of them is, however, not necessarily the same that men expect. In his own way, he has changed the erotic fantasy of our age or at least has strongly influenced it. He is kind of sorcerer’s apprentice for the picture of women in our time. ”

Helmut Newton德國攝影師塑造的大裸女

如果有人說,某些畫家是畫女人聞名,那麼Helmut Newton(1920-2003)則是女人的攝影師。我喜歡他呈現女人的方式,因為在他鏡頭前的女人是成熟、獨立而且神態堅定的。跟他幾乎同輩的知名人像攝影師如Richard Avedon 和Irving Penn相比,他的女人裸體攝影可能充滿爭議,但是效果絕對令現在以及下一個世紀的人都過目不忘。

Newton的生命在我看來分成三段:他在柏林出生,年輕時為了躲避納粹逃往澳洲,戰後在歐洲巴黎與洛杉磯等地工作生活。他因一場車禍身亡之後,位於柏林的Helmut Newton Foundation常年展示他的經典與輝煌。自2019年6月7日開始該機構展示Newton, Sumo,展覽內容包含四百張巨幅女性裸體攝影。這些作品源起於1999年,著名出版社Taschen印了史無前例的一本大書:Helmut Newton, Sumo。這本書的尺寸50*70公分,內含超過四百張他的女性攝影。該書限量發行一萬本,隨書還附一具由Philippe Starck設計的鐵書架。

Helmut Newton, Sumo以及Big NudesThe Naked and the Dressed等多數攝影系列中,模特兒身體在各種場景中,都看起來像是完美近乎古典雕塑。攝影與雕塑之間的影響與關聯是我有興趣的,早在20世紀初的一本法國雜誌La Culture Physique就有介紹,它專門談男女身材與曲線塑造,運動健身中心創辦人暨攝影師Edmond Desbonnet (1867-1953)也將自己的裸像,模擬雕塑攝影的呈現手法印在宣傳的廣告中。對他而言,整體身材比例的和諧至關重要。學者Geraldine A. Johnson的著作Sculpture and Photography: Envisioning the Third Dimension 裡也整理強調出20世紀初攝影師Edward Steichen,Man Ray 和Walker Evans對雕塑的攝影之高度興趣。


已故的時尚設計師Karl Lagerfeld(1933-2019)和Newton不僅是同輩也來自同一個國家,當他於1990年代為Newton寫序文時說道:「Newton拍攝的女性角度,未必是男性所期望的。順著自己的方式,他改變了或是至少影響了我們時代對於情色的想像。他應該是神話中某個魔法大師的弟子,掌管我們時代的女人照片。」


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