On June 1st, 2012 the new Helmut Newton exhibition opened under the title 'White Women / Sleepless Nights / Big Nudes'.
Originally conceived for and presented at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, this exhibition at the Helmut Newton Foundation
is dedicated to Newtons first three legendary publications. The motifs published in the books have been transformed into exhibition prints. During Newtons lifetime, these photographs bordering between fashion and nude photography were never displayed together.
His first photography book, White Women, was published when Newton was already 56 years old, in 1976. The book received the Kodak Photobook Award shortly thereafter and has enjoyed numerous reprints ever since. In White Women, Newton used nudity within the visual world of fashion. While such unusual pictures both astonished and provoked the scene, above all, they revolutionized fashion photography. Furthermore, Newtons photographs both reflect and comment on the transformation of the role of women in western society at the time. Inevitably, Newton makes us observers into voyeurs.
Just as perfectly arranged were the black and white and color photographs in Newtons 1978 book Sleepless Nights. Previously published in various magazines, these were also all about women, their bodies and their clothes; fashion shots that are simultaneously portraits, or which could double as crime scene documentation photos. Here for the first time are also three smaller series, which would later be counted among Newtons iconic images: half-naked, female models in orthopedic body braces or wearing leather saddles by Hermès, as well as the so-called dummies. His second publication Sleepless Nights also features mannequins that are mostly in amorous combination with a person. For Helmut Newton, fashion often seems to be an excuse to realize something different and very individual.
At the latest with his third publication Big Nudes, Helmut Newton had secured his seat atop the Mount Olympus of photography. Since its first publication in 1981, the book has been reprinted thousands of times, by several publishing houses and in multiple languages. Soon after their creation the monumental pictures were shown in various museums; with his Big Nudes and the subsequent life-sized images from his Naked and Dressed series, Newton had opened up a new dimension of the photographic human image.
In parallel to the exhibition 'Helmut Newton: White Women / Sleepless Nights / Big Nudes' the Dutch photographer Jan de Wit will be presenting his show 'Journey to the Past' in June´s Room; featuring photographs from a shared trip with Helmut Newton through Brandenburg and to the Baltic Sea, in 1999, tracing Newtons childhood.