On the poster, in the heat of a villa in summer, a woman embraces the man standing in front of her with a stretched gaze of kohl. The universe of the photographer Helmut Newton is recognizable by this crest line of the sexy, which leaves it up to the spectator to tell the rest. The photographer thus laid down on the paper of his black and white prints almost all that the years 1980 to 1990 counted of whimsical and fantasized women. Subject today explosive.
To the question of how to see and show Helmut Newton after #MeToo, the New National Museum of Monaco answers in 280 photos, until November 13. The exhibition entitled “Newton, Riviera” announces the program and the entrance with its large portrait of a provocative sexagenarian on high heels sets the tone. Dandy photographer, born Helmut Neustädter in 1920 in the Berlin Jewish bourgeoisie, he fled the Nazis in 1938 and began his career in Singapore before emigrating to Australia. From the 1960s, he became one of the most popular magazine photographers in France.
The abyss of fantasies
Newton has a taste for derision, role-playing and Monaco becomes the favorite ground for his shots. He will play clichés of desires for an easy life in the sun by making the bluish rectangles of swimming pools the backdrop for perpetual late-night atmospheres.
When the fashion and advertising photographer entered the field of art in 1981, he became a Monegasque resident and integrated the decor of a work heralding the “porn chic” aesthetic.
Died in 2004, Newton did not bother much during his lifetime with explanations of his style, which has always been controversial. His photos with sharp contours splashed with sunlight or charcoal black and white draw the object of desire where the trivial rubs shoulders with the sublime. Newton’s muscular nudes almost always have their feet caught in a fetish pump. Elsewhere, an expressionist monocle punctuated with its disturbing strangeness a few friendly faces, including that of Paloma Picasso.
His photos are a voyeuristic anthropology that crosses references ranging from Luis Buñuel to Erich von Stroheim. Newton does not shoot by instinct but by cord and in collaboration with his wife June, alias Alice Springs. They remain one of the greatest image-making couples of the XXe century. It is up to those who look at them to find what they want there, the abyss of fantasies is vast there.
Newton, French Riviera
At NMNM, Villa Sauber, Monaco until November 13th. Info. : www.nmnm.mc
How to deal with the rise of uncertainties?
Inflation, rising interest rates, Ukraine and now political uncertainty, the shocks are multiplying. To assess in an increasingly complex environment, the expertise of Les Echos editorial staff is invaluable. Every day, our surveys, analyses, columns and editorials accompany our subscribers, help them understand the changes that are transforming our world and prepare them to make the best decisions.