The Work of Iconic Photographer Helmut Newton Will Be on Display in Melbourne in 2022

helmut newton

In April 2022, Melbourne will become home to a milestone exhibition that will showcase an expansive collection of trailblazing photographer Helmut Newton, displaying his recognisable and quintessential works. 

Showing at the Jewish Museum of Australia, HELMUT: In Focus will explore Newton’s early career, shine a light on his Jewish roots and early life in Berlin and chart his post-war life and work in Melbourne in addition to sharing details of his relationship with his Australian-born wife — acclaimed actress, artist and photographer June Newton, who worked under the pseudonym, Alice Springs.

Through a fascinating collection of letters, diary entries and photographs, HELMUT: In Focus traces Newton’s early years in Berlin, his flight from Germany at the outbreak of World War II, and his eventual internment at Tatura in regional Victoria as an enemy alien – weaving a remarkable story of reinvention and determination.

Jewish Museum of Australia Senior Curator and Collections Manager, Eleni Papavasileiou, expressed her elation about the upcoming exhibit saying, in a press statement, “We are thrilled with the opportunity to present a major collection of Newton’s photography, work that spans much of his international career, and to explore his Jewish upbringing and the significant role that Australia and post-war Melbourne played in his life’s story.”

Newton opened a photography studio on the top floor of a building in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane in 1946 and set about building a career as a photographer in fashion, social and theatre circles. It was during this period that the legendary artists forged a deep bond with Australia, a tie that will be examined in never-before-seen detail in the exhibition. 

Newton left Melbourne for Paris in 1961, and as his international career took off, his sexually-charged photographs would come to see him dubbed the ‘King of Kink’ and evolve into one of the most influential and, at times, controversial photographers in the history of the medium. 

Over the course of his career, he photographed names including Grace Jones, Claudia Schiffer, Isabella Rossellini, Charlotte Rampling, and even Margaret Thatcher, with his work appearing in leading international fashion magazines from Vanity Fair to Vogue, including more than 60 covers for Vogue Italia alone. However, his art was not without its detractors as it pushed boundaries and challenged the norms surrounding the depiction of women and feminine power — not only in fashion but in photography, visual art, film and culture, more broadly. 

Newton died on 23 January 2004 after suffering a heart attack. He was 83 years old.

HELMUT: In Focus will open at the Jewish Museum of Australia on 29 April 2022 and run until 29 January 2023. For more information, please visit the museum’s official website.

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