Watch (soon): photographer Helmut Newton’s documentary

Written by Sara Black

The first posthumous doco about Helmut Newton has been internet-released. Keep your eyes peeled.

Nicknamed the ‘king of kink’, photographer Helmut Newton led an interesting life. Born in 1920s Berlin, he was the child of a button factory owner.

He picked up a camera at the age of 12, and by the age of 15 was working for German Jewish photographer Yva (Elsie Neuländer Simon). Soon after, the antisemitic Nuremberg Laws enforced the closure of his father’s factory and the family fled to Argentina, then China, then Singapore. Where Newton was employed as a portrait photographer for the Straits Times.

His 20s took him to Australia, where he enlisted with the Australian Army working as a truck driver. He married actress June Browne (who used the ironic moniker Alice Springs for her photography work). The post-war economy pick-up afforded Newton work in fashion and theatre circles.

He began to establish a reputation and hosted his first solo exhibition, worked for Australian Vogue, moved to London, worked for British Vogue, moved to Paris, moved to Melbourne, worked for Australian Vogue (again), moved to Paris (again) and worked for French Vogue.

But, back to this ‘king of kink’ title. An, erm, particular style began to evolve. Marked by erotic, stylised scenes, often with sadomasochistic and fetishistic subtexts. Capturing provocative, unconventional and, at times, subversive images of women.

Why are you getting this quick history lesson?

Because director, Gero von Boehm, has just internet-released a documentary on the guy. Helmut Newton: The Bad And The Beautiful chronicles his life — from his button factory upbringings to his untimely Chateau Marmont death.

Featuring interviews with Anna Wintour, Grace Jones, Claudia Schiffer, Catherine Deneuve, Charlotte Rampling, Isabella Rossellini and more — the documentary begs the question, were his muses subjects or objects?

Not yet available to New Zealand, keep your eyes peeled for an INDEX update.

“The world needs a form of provocation because it stimulates thought and it stimulates conversation.” — Charlotte Rampling.

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