One of the early innovators of modern fashion photography, Helmut Newton was known for opening eyes with his provocative photographs that appeared throughout the pages of iconic magazines like Harper's BAZAAR, Paris Vogue, and American Vogue. The Museum of Fine Arts Houston pays tribute to the photographer with the exhibition "Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes," on display through September 25. The show displays 205 images from Newton's first three books: "White Women" (1976), "Sleepless Nights" (1978), and "Big Nudes" (1982). Several large-scale 8' by 8' prints are also included in the exhibition.
June Newton, the photographer's widow, came up with the concept for the exhibition, which was then produced by Manfred Heiting, a Dutch collector and friend of the Newtons, and Anne Tucker, Gus and Lyndall Wortham curator of photography at the MFAH.
Newton revolutionized the way women were photographed through erotic nudes that empowered female sexuality. "Saddle I," taken from "Sleepless Nights" depicts a perfectly-coiffed model perched on a bed on all fours with a saddle on her back, while "Self-Portrait" portrays the artist at work, shooting a naked model standing in front of a mirror as his wife sits in the distance.
The self-made photographer survived the Holocaust in Germany, only to be interned by British Authorities in Singapore as an "enemy alien" before being shipped to Australia, where he was released after serving a two-year sentence at a camp. It was after a two-year stint in the Australian army that he changed his name from Neustädter to Newton and began making a name for himself as a photographer. Newton died in 2004 at 83 after a tragic Los Angeles car accident.
As Tucker put it in a statement: "His distinct, risqué photographs present what were, arguably, the world's most beautiful models in a range of personalities."
Click on the photo gallery at left to view images from "Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes."