With provocative expressions, mile long legs and animalistic movements, the women of Helmut Newton scale the walls of the Grand Palais this summer in a retrospective event not to miss. Newton is celebrated for his empowering portrayals of women through his fashion photography. Having championed the integration of taboo themes into mainstream image making, we remember Newton for the overt androgyny, conflict, and eroticism within his work. Confrontation and tension charge his compositions and make his women powerful and strong, even revolutionary in their time.
Emphasized by his narrative style, there are many layers to his work, most obvious in his naked/clothed images, or his Polaroid shots with a more intimate, behind the scenes feeling. Particularly striking as full scale prints, some more iconic works take on a life of their own, like the Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo shoot on a darkened Parisian street. You can quietly transport yourself to the location, a voyeur on the scene of a staged moment captured so genuinely.
Making leaps in fashion photography with his subversive language, Newton added intrigue and sex appeal by creating narratives that gave life to the fashion he shot. The retrospective of his work is also a reminiscent of an era. It is a story of a time of change, when Newton’s images pushed boundaries, challenged viewers, and icons were born. The aggressive figures, the intensity of the compositions, and the dynamism of the entire body of work create an impressive experience inside the minds eye of a master.
Helmut Newton at The Grand Palais through June 17, 2012
- Lee Anderson, Parisian Correspondent