The small coastal town of A Coruña in Galicia, northern Spain, is fast becoming an unexpected cultural destination for enthusiasts of fashion photography. In the past two years, it has hosted major retrospectives of Peter Lindbergh and Steven Meisel; this autumn, it is Helmut Newton’s turn in the spotlight, the seminal German image-maker the subject of an expansive new exhibition titled ‘Helmut Newton – Fact & Fiction’.
The reason is Marta Ortega Pérez, the daughter of the Inditex and Zara co-founder Amancio Ortega Gaona and current Inditex non-executive chair, whose eponymous foundation was founded after the success of ‘Peter Lindbergh: Untold Stories’, which she organised. Its aim is to bring such world-class exhibitions to A Coruña – Inditex is headquartered in nearby Arteixo – and support the careers of young photographers and artists.
‘Helmut Newton – Fact & Fiction’ in A Coruña, Spain
‘Fact & Fiction’ celebrates the prolific output of the photographer who was born in Berlin in 1920 and apprenticed under Yva, the professional pseudonym of photographer Else Ernestine Neuländer-Simon, who was part of the burgeoning avant-garde scene in Germany in the 1930s. Moving to Australia in 1940, where he served for five years in the country’s army, he would return to Europe to work for British Vogue in the late 1950s.
It was to be the beginning of an illustrious career in fashion for Newton, who for international editions of Vogue and numerous other titles created his provocative, sensual photographs which were infused with the femme fatales of film noir, S&M and fetish, and elements of surrealism. His work remains highly influential today.
The new exhibition – a major retrospective of his work – is created alongside the Helmut Newton Foundation and will be curated by Philippe Garner, Matthias Harder, and Tim Jefferies. Films will provide new insights into the photographer’s working process, while a curation of fashion imagery will capture what the organisers call his ‘bold and unapologetic’ style (such as his iconic ‘Big Nudes’ series). Portraits of numerous personalities will also feature, among them Andy Warhol, David Bowie, Karl Lagerfeld and Naomi Campbell. A counterpoint comes in a lesser-known side of his oeuvre, a series of landscape images of cities – each one resonant to his career – from Monte Carlo to Los Angeles.
‘Helmut Newton is one of that celestial band of photographers whose images are instantly recognisable as their own,’ says Ortega Pérez/ ‘Newton’s own great revolutionary act was to utterly change the ways in which women were portrayed in the pages of glossy magazines. Here were women who enjoyed style and fashion, who enjoyed the power and splendour of their bodies, women who were elegantly seductive and untouchable. His photographs were not only of his time but far ahead of his time - he spectacularly set the scene for those photographers who followed him.’
‘Helmut Newton – Fact & Fiction’ runs from 18 November 2023 – 1 May 2024.
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Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*. Having previously held roles at 10, 10 Men and AnOther magazines, he joined the team in 2022. His work has a particular focus on the moments where fashion and style intersect with other creative disciplines – among them art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and profiling the industry’s leading figures and brands.
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