Eine Frau sitzt unbekleidet auf samtenem Sofa

10.05.2020 - 01.08.2021

A Hundred Years of Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton is considered one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. The exhibition shows his lifetime achievement as a staged museum tour

Barlach Kunstmuseum Wedel

Helmut Newton is considered one of the most important photographers of the 20th century. No photographer of his time created more elaborate and provocative image stagings than Helmut Newton. His nude photography still has such an exciting and excessive effect today because it directly targets the individual boundaries of feeling, taste and morality. The women he shows are strong and self-confident. The models' bodies are not so much wrapped in clothes as in a subtle sexual tension that transcends time and leaves everything fashionable behind.

In April 2000, Newton's so-called SUMO picture book caused a sensation when the number one copy broke the record for the largest, heaviest, and most expensive book of the 20th century.

SUMO is no ordinary book. It is the essence of Newton's life's work. Designed by Benedikt Taschen and his wife June Newton, SUMO is an acknowledgement of Helmut Newton's incomparable photographic greatness, which the book impressively demonstrates in weight and size. SUMO introduces the viewer to hundreds of immaculate, often nude models, the world's most exciting people, their heads proudly raised, woven into the huge plush sofas of swanky mansions, the beds of luxury hotels, or set in surreal landscapes. But with his portrait photographs of, among others, Helmut Kohl, David Hockney or the sleeping Andy Warhol, Newton even created icons in the genrey of portrait photography.

The exhibition "Helmut Newton - SUMO" shows almost all photo pages of the SUMO book in original size and elaborate framing, from floor to ceiling, room by room, page by page, in clever selection, Helmut Newton's life's work as a museum tour.

Born Helmut Neustädter on October 31, 1920, in Berlin to a family of Jewish factory owners, Newton died in Los Angeles on January 23, 2004. He attended high school in Berlin until 1936, but dropped out to devote himself entirely to photography. He began an apprenticeship that same year with the Jewish photographer Else Neuländer-Simon, who was forced to close her studio in 1938 after being banned from the profession and was later murdered by the Nazis. Shortly after his 18th birthday, on December 5, 1938, Newton fled Berlin for Asia. From 1956, the Australian edition of Vogue became his main client and brought international fame. In the 1970s, Newton became one of the most sought-after and expensive fashion, advertising, portrait and nude photographers in the world. In 2020, he would have turned 100 years old.