For the Love of Helmut

By Tara Shannon

Working on location inspired Helmut Newton - and an inspired Helmut was a really playful Helmut.  This snap was taken during a really great shoot for French Vogue in the south of France where everything was flowing effortlessly and he was in a great mood. June was with him and their Hollywood friends were coming by to say hi.  Bob Rafelson brought Jessica Lang who had her newborn daughter with her.

We were in the garden having lunch and everyone was taking pictures of each other, laughing and stepping in on each other’s shots. I started shooting Helmut, pretending that I was him.

He yelled a lot when shooting, so I mimicked him: “Helmut! That’s it! Don’t Move!  Francois, POWDER! , Katia, HAIR! “  Everyone started joining in, telling him to arch his back or find his light. He was actually a really good model!  He liked being teased.  He just loved having fun. He wanted work to be fun. He wanted life to be fun.

I shot with a Pentax Auto 110 that I had bought in Japan. It was a complete ultra-miniature SLR system. fully automatic with no user-settable adjustments.

It was a perfect camera to travel with as a model. I could buy 110 film in any airport and every drugstore in the world could develop it in an hour. He was wild about it. June shot this pic of Helmut and I with that camera.  He called it The Dwarf appealing totally to how he worked- his equipment being as pared down as possible. He found amateur cameras more innovative than professional.  I think my Pentax appealed to him so much because Helmut really and truly  was a reportage photographer at heart. He was the Weegee of the fashion world- a visual shark. He was brilliant at capturing those lurking shadows so full of subtext and pathos that were blatantly hiding within the seemingly superficial.

His point of view was the rabbit hole. He left it up to the viewer to fall down it as deeply as they wanted to go.

Former model Tara Shannon was once referred to as "the woman of a thousand faces." Learn more about her on her official website.

Watch Helmut Newton Shoot Eva Herzigova For 'Vogue'

Last month, we brought you a vintage House of Style video clip that featured a behind-the-scenes of a Helmut Newton photoshoot with Cindy Crawford. 

Here's another clip from that show (circa the early 1990s), which features model Eva Herzigová in a shoot for Vogue magazine. In the video, Newton dispenses some wisdom on his photography, such as the belief that some people tend to overanalyze his images.

"People...they a look at magazines like Vogue," he says, "and they analyze, kind of politically, socially, pictures that are just a fashion photograph."

Click "read more" to watch the video clip.

Spotted at the Space: Ed Templeton

Professional skateboarder and contemporary artist Ed Templeton and his wife Deanna visited the Photography Space last weekend to check out the Helmut Newton exhibit.  Haven't seen the exhibit yet?  Drop by this weekend!  In addition to our regular weekend hours, we're open on Labor Day from 11am-6pm.

Helmut Newton Arrives June 29th!

Our next exhibit is the very first solo show at the Annenberg Space for Photography and boy is it a doozy. Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes presents the work of one of the most revolutionary and influential photographers of the past century. Newton's provocative images of women brought eroticism to fashion photography. In his photos, art, fashion, subverison and aspiration collide. The exhibit opens on Saturday June 29, 2013.

Watch the video teaser above for a sneak peek of the show.

Helmut Newton: And Behind Every Great Man

© Estate of Helmut Newton

By Vibeke Knudsen

Rue Aubriot is one of the most enduring photographs I have had the privilege of being a part of.

It was the last shot in a series of photographs for the collections for French Vogue. Working with Helmut Newton was always “charged," as he was a god among fashion photographers.

The shoot took place at night. That was the only time that the collections were available for photography. We had breezed through the other shots and it was about 2 am when we pulled up in front of Helmut’s studio to do this last shot in the street.

As I came out of the (small) mini van, where we changed outfits, and stood under a single streetlight, it very quickly became clear that the energy had shifted and heightened.

It wasn’t just that the photographer was Helmut, the editor for the shoot was Francine Cressant, the hairdresser was Alexandre (lui meme), the makeup artist Jacques Clement, and that the suit being shot was a perfect example of YSL - at his best. It was, indeed, a collaboration of masters of their trade… and then there was a moment of magic thrown in. It seemed that we were all aware that something special was attached to the moment.

Helmut insisted on shooting with the streetlight only, which meant I had to stand completely still for two seconds - that’s a long time in stilettoes on cobblestones!

At this point, the atmosphere was that of total focus. No one but Helmut spoke.

While he was shooting, Helmut asked us all to come back the following night. He was already planning his next shot. He wanted me to use the same pose with a nude model (Aya) standing next to me. I was asked to wear the same suit. Aya was not completely nude in this shot; she wore high heels and a hat with a veil. Helmut included both shots in his book, White Women.

Since then, the two photographs have often appeared side by side. They have remained relevant, modern and perfectly classic.

There have been many attempts to replicate this photo, many ”inspirations” to ”duplicate” this photo. I have been part of a few indirect homages and even when they were beautiful, they have always fallen short.

Such is the special vision, focus and quality of Helmut Newton. All hail to the king!

And as for ”behind every great man, stands a great woman.” Never was this more true than in the collaboration of Helmut and June. June Newton, aka Alice Springs, was Helmut’s muse, inspiration and partner. June is a wonderful photographer in her own right and Helmut was her greatest fan. The woman behind Helmut was a part of his greatness.

I feel very fortunate to have worked as much as I did with Helmut Newton and very proud to be the model in Rue Aubriot. Thank you Helmut, thank you June.

Vibeke Knudsen was born in Denmark and has worked as a model in Europe and America for 40 years. In the 70's she often worked with Helmet Newton and considers herself fortunate to have collaborated with many of her profession's most gifted photographers. She now spends her time traveling. See this image and over 100 others at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes.

Model Sylvia Gobbel On Working With Helmut Newton

Self-Portrait with Wife and Models, Vogue Studios, Paris 1981

©Estate of Helmut Newton

By Sylvia Gobbel

The first time I met Helmut Newton was when my agency sent me to a casting call for French Vogue for the haute couture summer collections which were shot by Helmut Newton. I was 19 and had been in Paris for just two weeks. A long line of beautiful models was waiting to be recieved by the master and suddenly Helmut stood up, looked at me and asked me to step forward….He interviewed me about my origins and since I’m Austrian, we started to speak German immediatly together. Helmut spoke a very fine and charming upperclass German from Berlin, which pleased my ear.

He told me that he would love to shoot the haute couture French Vogue with me but was much more interested in seeing if I would like to shoot some nudes for his next book. I had never posed nude before, but, since I loved his work, I accepted right away.

Helmut was tired that day; he just had his third heart attack and he was in convalescents.

Soon we shot for French Vogue and, a few days after, our first nude titled Sylvia In My Studio. At that time Helmut still had his studio in Paris (rue de L’Abbé de l’Epée), where he was living with his wife June. After makeup and hair, just so I wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of everyone, Helmut sent everybody else home. The only person who remained with us was June, who made the shoot really comfortable for me.

June and Helmut were the most loving couple I’ve ever met. Such a complicity, so much sense of humor and tenderness…

We worked until late at night and we shot a great pic standing at the window, while it was dark outside….I had to wear very high heel shoes, such as Louboutins, but in the eighties you only could find those kind of shoes in Pigalle, the shopping and working area for prostitutes and transvestites. Helmut loved to go shopping in that neighborhood for his shoots, because he could find all kinds of strange accessories for his work.

After that first shoot I had the chance to work with Helmut quite a bit. I was his muse for a few years…You can see many of the nudes that we did together at Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes, currently at the Annenberg Space for Photography. I also had the chance to be on the cover of his book, Big Nudes (published in 1981) which he dedicated to me. We shot lots of campaigns together such as VERSACE POMELLATO AMICA..etc. I lost contact with Helmut once I stopped working as a model. My biggest regret is that I didn’t meet him one last time to thank him for everything he did for me.

Images of Sylvia Gobbel modeling for Helmut Newton can be seen in Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes. For more information about Gobbel, please see her official website here.

 

Helmut Newton Exhibit Opening Celebration

Last night the Photography Space feted famed photographer Helmut Newton and the launch of our latest show, Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes. The opening exhibit gala featured friends of the legendary photographer as well those who admire him and his work. Click "read more" to see some great photos from the party.


Supermodel Cindy Crawford, with her husband Rande Gerber, admire the photographs at the Photography Space.


Exhibt guest curator Manfred Heiting, co-owner of the Fahey/Klein Gallery, David Fahey, with the "Three Boys from Pasadena," George Holz, Just Loomis and Mark Arbeit.


Model and actress Nastassja Kinski, who posed for Newton in the 1980s.


Actor James Caan with Newton friend, film producer Robert Evans.


Actress/singer Mandy Moore with film and television star Minka Kelly pose in front of one of Newton's photos, which is also one of the images used in the exhibit's street banner campaign.


A group of partygoers enjoy the gala.


DJ Mathieu Schreyer entertained the crowd the entire evening.


Heiting with Annenberg Foundation Vice President and Director Charles Weingarten and Annenberg Foundation Executive Director Leonard Aube.
 


Photographer Neil Leifer with Pat Lanza, Director of Talent and Content for the Annenberg Space for Photography.


Crawford and Gerber take a break from the festivities to strike a pose.


Actress Bella Heathcote at the gala.


What a wonderful way to toast Helmut Newton and his legendary work! Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes opens to the public tomorrow and will show for a limited time until September 8, 2013.

Photos by Chris Weeks and Unique Nicole for the Space.

Helmut Newton & Cindy Crawford On Location

Helmut Newton photographed numerous models duing his long career - some more famous than others. One person who had the pleasure of working with Newton is supermodel Cindy Crawford. Last month, the icon attended the opening gala for our Helmut Newton exhibit at the Space for Photography.

We've uncovered a vintage segment from Crawford's popular 1990s fashion show on MTV, House of Style, which shows her on location in Monte Carlo wth Newton for a Vogue magazine photoshoot. She had this to say about her experience with the legenadry photographer: "I wanted to do Helmut Newton photographs. I didn't want him to photograph me looking like the Madonna….he's one of the few people that can get away with it and it doesn't look raunchy."

Click "read more" to watch Newton in action in the clip from 1990.

Douglas Bergeron On Helmut Newton's 'Rue Aubriot'


© Estate of Helmut Newton

Last month we presented you the point of view of the above photo (Rue Aubriot) by Helmut Newton from the very model featured in the famous image: Vibeke Knudsen. Today, we bring you the perspective from Knuden's husband, Douglas Bergeron, who is a writer, art historian and art collector.

By Douglas Bergeron

Helmut Newton’s black & white photo, Rue Aubriot, represents the extension of a long artistic tradition dedicated to showing femmes fatales, erotic vampires and alluring denizens of the Paris night. Charles Baudelaire’s spirit curls around the German photographers tableau, where we see echoes of Nadar’s early monochrome photos of great poets & artists. However, it is Brassai’s photographic depictions of his venuses of the crossroads- pictures of Parisian street walkers taken in the early 1930s, which are most often mentioned as an influence on Newton’s work.

In Rue Aubriot, Vibeke Knudsen wears a pinstripped suit (Le Smoking) designed by Yves Saint Laurent. She holds a cigarette with her hair slicked back. The model recalls the androgynous music hall performers of the Weimer republic seen in Otto Dix’s paintings of the period. Newton’s famous photo has been reproduced so many times that it has become an icon in his oeuvre, & like many icons, the image has found a meaning of its own that is decoupled from the influences that may have inspired it.

Androgyny. Woman’s lib. The power of branding: Vibeke’s elegant YSL pant suit can be seen as a symbol of woman’s empowerment & her androgynous appearance illustrates the new norm of contemporary culture. Label:  Today’s heroines must follow a necessary ritual. They wrap themselves in designer names that amplify their power. These names are muttered like an open sesame, an incantation that gives them access to the red carpet.

Perhaps the power of Newton’s photo lies in its classical simplicity, which is highlighted by the subtle gradations of its black and white palette. The modern fashion photograph has become the repository of those classical traditions of posing spawned by early Greek sculpture, traditions that were repeated through the Renaissance and well into the 19th Century. It is on the pages of today’s fashion magazines that our ideals of beauty are preserved and promoted - frozen in poses as old as the Elgin marbles. The classical purity of Newton’s night composition, made on the Rue Aubriot, is etched with a clarity that makes his model much more than just a sophisticated hanger for a fine suit of clothes. Vibeke Knudsen’s still pose and sharp, frozen, silhouette takes her outside the moving processes of time. Rue Aubroit’s streetlamps crystallize Vibeke’s image, transforming her into a dark angel of light that somehow remains beyond our reach.

But Newton’s photo has also made his model part of a famous troop of artfully rendered beauties. Rue Aubroit now hangs amongst a time-honored collection of well-known portraits devoted to those alluring queens of seduction that have decorated the Parisian night.  Rue Aubriot both captures and transcends the spirit of a decade and has become one of the perfect instants of contemporary, post-modern visual mythology. Helmut Newton’s photo will linger in our collective memory for many generations to come.

See this image and over 100 others at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes.

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