Helmut Newton

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Helmut Newton

Helmut Newton [ ˈnjuːtn̩ ] (originally Helmut Neustädter ; born October 31, 1920 in Berlin ; † January 23, 2004 in Los Angeles ) was a German - Australian photographer .


Helmut Newton's portrait by Laurel Martyn, 1952,
National Library of Australia

Helmut Newton was born in 1920 as the son of a wealthy Jewish button manufacturer family in Berlin under the name Helmut Neustädter. He attended grammar school until 1936, but dropped out after he was more fond of swimming , girls and photography at that time . In the same year he began an apprenticeship as a photographer with the then famous Berlin photographer Yva (Else Neuländer-Simon), who had to close her studio after being banned from working in 1938 and was later murdered in the Sobibor extermination camp . At the time, shortly after his 18th birthday, on December 5, 1938, Newton fled Germany from the Nazis in the direction of Singapore . There he worked as a photo reporter for The Straits Times for two weeks before being fired for "incapacity."

He spent the war years from 1940 in Australia , where he initially worked as a truck driver in the army and in railway construction . In 1945 he opened a photo studio in Melbourne . A year later, he took on Australian citizenship. In 1948 he married the actress June Browne (actor pseudonym June Brunell, since there was already an actress by the name of June Browne), with whom he lived until his death. The couple were childless. June Newton herself worked as a photographer under the pseudonym Alice Springs since the 1970s .

From 1956 Helmut Newton worked for the Australian edition of Vogue , which became his main employer. Little by little, the French , Italian , American and German editions, as well as other fashion magazines, signed him up . Since the 1970s, Newton was one of the most sought-after and expensive fashion , advertising , portrait and nude photographers in the world. Among the celebrities portrayed were Helmut Kohl , Margaret Thatcher , Charlotte Rampling , Catherine Deneuve , Liz Taylor , Romy Schneider and Hanna Schygulla . In 1976, when Newton was already 56 years old, his first photo book, White Women , was published, which was awarded the Kodak Photo Book Prize shortly after its publication . In April 2000, Newton's so-called SUMO illustrated book caused a stir when copy number one - hand-signed by over 100 of the famous personalities depicted in the book - achieved DM 620,000 at a charity auction, breaking the record for the most expensive book of the 20th century .

Grave of Helmut Newton (2006)

Helmut Newton had lived in Monaco with his wife June Newton since 1981 - the couple spent the winter months in Los Angeles. Newton died at the age of 83 on the night of January 23-24, 2004 after a traffic accident with his Cadillac in Los Angeles at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center . It was his wish to be buried in his native Berlin. On June 2, 2004, his urn was buried in a grave of honor in the Schöneberg III cemetery in Berlin-Friedenau . Among the mourners were Federal Chancellor Gerhard Schröder , Berlin's Governing Mayor Klaus Wowereit and the British actor Roger Moore .


In November 1993 Alice Schwarzer accused him in the feminist magazine Emma that his photos were not only sexist and racist , but also fascist . She cited 19 of his pictures as evidence. Emma printed the corresponding images in one issue without permission, which led to a successful lawsuit by the German publisher Schirmer / Mosel with the approval of Helmut Newton for intentional copyright infringement against Emma-Verlag. The Regional Court of Munich sentenced Emma Frauenverlags GmbH to pay damages. Image quotations are allowed in political disputes, but Emma has exceeded the required level with 19 images.


Memorial plaque on the house where he was born in

Awards during his lifetime

Posthumous honor

Helmut Newton Museum (2008)

On June 3, 2004, June Newton opened the Museum of Photography , in which the Helmut Newton Foundation is also based, with the exhibition of her husband's picture collection, which was donated to the Staatliche Museen Berlin .

On April 8, 2005, a memorial plaque for Newton was unveiled at Innsbrucker Strasse 24, where he was born.

In Berlin there is a Helmut Newton Bar on Gendarmenmarkt . There you can find a wall-sized work by him.

Helmut Newton Foundation

Helmut Newton Foundation in the former Landwehr casino, Berlin (2004)

Helmut Newton himself founded the Helmut Newton Foundation in November 2003 during his lifetime . As a result of its establishment, Newton has transferred numerous photo positives to his foundation. With its headquarters in Zurich, it is a foundation under Swiss law. The foundation works internationally and aims to present, preserve and protect the photographic works of Helmut and June Newton (later known as Alice Springs).

One of the foundation's most important measures is the conclusion of a contract with the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation . This contract guarantees the Helmut Newton Foundation that it will have two floors of the former Landwehr casino in Berlin-Charlottenburg to organize and hold exhibitions there. Since the opening in June 2004 there have been constantly changing exhibitions by and about the photographer Helmut Newton, supplemented by other artists and photographers. The Helmut Newton Foundation cooperates and shares the building with the Museum of Photography . According to the wishes of the founder and namesake, the exhibitions, which are deliberately intended to be based in his native Berlin, should not represent a “dead museum”, but rather act as a “living institution”. Newton particularly expressed his joy that the foundation was located in the former Landwehr casino on Jebensstrasse - directly at the Zoo station - because this building was one of the last he saw from the train when he escaped from Berlin in 1938.


Posthumous solo exhibitions (selection)

  • February 25 - June 4, 2006 at the Palazzo Reale in Milan : Sex & Landscapes .
  • January 9 - March 27, 2011 at the Kunsthaus Apolda : Avant-garde - Helmut Newton . Works from the Museum der Moderne Salzburg. Loan from the MAP collection.
  • June 10 - November 20, 2011 in the Berlin Museum of Photography : Helmut Newton Polaroids


  • Claus Stephani: A grand master of photography. To the Helmut Newton retrospective in Salzburg. In: David. Jüdische Kulturzeitschrift (Vienna), Vol. 24, No. 94, Sept. 2012, pp. 58–59. ( [1]
  • Gero von Boehm : Helmut Newton. September 25, 2002 . Interview in: Encounters. Images of man from three decades . Collection Rolf Heyne, Munich 2012, ISBN 978-3-89910-443-1 , pp. 337–342.
  • François Marquet: Helmut Newton . Taschen , Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-8228-1326-5 .
  • Walter Seitter : Helmut Newton. Body analyzes . Special number, Vienna 1993, ISBN 3-85449-043-7


  • Helmut Newton - The Bad And The Beautiful Documentary, Germany, 2020, 93 min., Director: Gero von Boehm
  • Helmut Newton - My Life. Film portrait, Germany, 2002, 42 min., Director: Gero von Boehm, production: Macroscope, arte , first broadcast: October 13, 2002 on arte, summary , engl. Original sound with German subtitles.
  • Helmut Newton. Frames from the Edge. Documentary, Great Britain, 1989, 100 min., Director: Adrian Maben, distribution: Arthaus Musik, ISBN 978-3-939873-29-7 .

Web links

Commons : Helmut Newton  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Helmut Newton at Spiegel-Online. Retrieved February 3, 2013
  2. Spiegel Online from January 24, 2004: Helmut Newton is dead retrieved on October 30, 2020.
  3. Elisabeth Binder: Royal atmosphere with Queen Silvia makes good deeds a pleasure - 1.3 million DM came together in the Tagesspiegel of April 7, 2000, accessed on November 2, 2016.
  4. Thomas Hummitzsch: Helmut Newton's SUMO is back in the Berliner Literaturkritik on November 26, 2009, accessed on November 2, 2016
  5. Deutsches Kameramuseum : Photo books: Helmut Newton: SUMO , accessed on November 2, 2016
  6. Don Winslow: Legendary Helmut Newton, 83, killed in LA car crash , digitaljournalist.org, accessed on September 2, 2018
  7. Olga Fedianina: October 31, 1920: Helmut Newton. ( Memento from October 11, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) In: Jüdische Zeitung from October 2006
  8. ↑ Memorial service for Helmut Newton - star photographer was buried next to Marlene Dietrich in Berlin. In: Rheinische Post from June 2, 2004.
  9. Alice in Newton Land . In: Der Spiegel . No. 30 , 1994, pp. 92-94 ( online ).
  10. Alice Schwarzer has to honor nude photos. In: dpa / Berliner Zeitung of July 28, 1994.
  11. Hans-Michael Koetzle: Photographers A – Z (p. 430), Taschen Verlag ( Bibliotheca Universalis ), Cologne 2017. ISBN 978-3-8365-5433-6
  12. berlin.de :: Museum for Photography, Helmut Newton Foundation (accessed November 25, 2018)