HELMUT NEWTON RETROSPECTIVE

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1920 - 2004

“Born Helmut Neustaedter in Berlin October 31, 1920, he grew up in privileged circumstances in the home of his wealthy button-manufacturer father.

He attended the city's American School, but was a bad student and was expelled when his fascination with photography, sparked by a camera bought when he was 12, overshadowed his interest in class.

After leaving school in 1936, the young Helmut worked as an apprentice to top photographer Elsie Simon, known as Yva, a job he held until he was forced to flee after the start of Adolf Hitler's vicious pogroms against German Jews two years later.

As he flirted with death by consorting with Aryan girls, his parents managed to secure him passage on a ship to China, but he stopped off in Singapore, where he got a job at the Straits Times newspaper, a job he held for just two weeks.

"Soon I realized how far I was from the goal I'd set for myself of becoming a Vogue photographer," he told the New Yorker last year.

Instead he met a glamorous older Belgian woman, and powered by an epic sex drive, became her lover and caroused around the British colony until moving to Australia in 1940, just ahead of the Japanese invasion.

After briefly being interned as a German citizen, he later joined the Australian army and in 1948 married actress June Brunell, who would remain his partner for more than 50 years until his death.

Neustaedter changed his name to Newton, opened a small photo studio in Melbourne, and soon began contributing fashion photos to French Vogue in 1961, a magazine that he made his own for a quarter century.

Over the years, Newton also contributed to magazines such as Playboy, Queen, Nova, Marie-Claire, Elle, and the American, Italian and German editions of Vogue -- his stark and provocative style setting a new industry standard.

His studies of nude women became his signature and the self-obsessed and often distant poses of the models frequent caused polemic in the art-world. He won the sobriquets "King of Kink" and Prince of Porn" in the 1970s after the publication of his erotic photo book "White Women."

His row of oversize prints of naked models, "Big Nudes," has perhaps become his best-know work, while his work had fetched up to 100,000 dollars apiece at auction.

An Australian citizen who lived in Monte Carlo in the summer and at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont hotel in the winter, Newton defied convention and set tongues wagging to the end.

Through his work, he evoked his close scrape with the Nazis -- his mentor Yva died at Auschwitz -- in a series of portraits of the most surprising subjects for a Jew who had spent his life wandering the world.

They includedHitler s official documentary makerLLeni Riefenstahl (news) -- who, according to his 2003 autobiography made him promise not to "call her an old Nazi" -- former UN chief Kurt Waldheim, who also was inked to the Nazis, and far right-wing French political leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.

But the exuberant photographer never dwelled on his luck nor the past. "I find this kind of living in the past useless and unproductive," he wrote in his book.”  - Lenin Imports

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