The special exhibition "Helmut Newton. Brands" of the Helmut Newton Foundation at the Museum of Photography shows over 200 photographs, including many unknown motifs from Newton's collaborations with internationally renowned brands such as Swarovski, Saint Laurent, Wolford, Blumarine or Lavazza.
Newton did not distinguish compositionally or stylistically between magazine editorial and the direct commissions of such clients, often arranged through advertising agencies.
Self-ironically, he called himself "A Gun for Hire" - and this was also the name of the posthumous exhibition of his commercial photography, which was first shown at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco in 2005 and then at the Museum of Photography.
The exhibition follows on from "A Gun for Hire" and presents Newton's photographs, which were taken primarily in the 1980s and '90s for wealthy advertising agencies and industrial clients, mostly in and around Monaco.
In the front three exhibition rooms, we encounter fashion images in the luxury segment, for example Newton's versions of Yves Saint Laurent's then-current fashions, haute couture, or prêt-à-porter designs. His photographic stagings are as varied and individual from season to season as the women's clothing itself and at times transport us to distant and fantastic spheres.
Commissioned work and long-term collaborations
In addition, Newton's commissioned works for Wolford, which were published in 1993 and 1994 as calendars for exclusive customers, are on display.
These photographs were also used for pantyhose packaging as well as for huge formats on billboards, public buses and house facades. The women in the pantyhose and tight-fitting bodysuits thus sometimes become giants in public space. Furthermore, the first three rooms of the exhibition contain advertising images by various designers for the American luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus, as well as examples from Newton's many years of close collaboration with Anna Molinari and her label Blumarine, including models Monica Bellucci, Carla Bruni, and Carré Otis, realized in Nice and Monaco in 1993 and 1994.
The presentation is complemented by photographs of other collaborations, including with the costume jewelry manufacturer Swarovski, Volkswagen and Chanel.
In the mid-1970s, Newton even realized two commercials for the famous perfume Chanel No 5 with Catherine Deneuve. Polaroids, analog contact sheets from selected advertising shoots, look books from fashion clients, and a few magazine ads are spread out in display cases, pointing to the various uses of Newton's advertising photography.
Collaboration with fashion companies beyond editorial began quite early in Newton's work. From 1962 to 1970, for example, he worked for Nino-Moden of Nordhorn, Germany's largest textile company at the time, or for the London-based Biba catalog in 1968. In the same year, he took on a commission from the French car manufacturer Citroën.
In this way, Newton staged everyday and luxury products for decades and became a link between producers and consumers through his visual realizations and their publications.
His picture stories were universally understandable, so they could easily be published in different national magazines of the same publisher, whether as editorial or advertising.
For the first time, Helmut Newton's work groups are part of a survey exhibition on his advertising photography. This mostly underestimated and at the same time so effective field of applied photography is about the purposeful visualization of concrete products, in Newton's case women's pantyhose, evening dresses, coffee powder, television sets, saw blades, silverware, red wine, cars, wristwatches, costume jewelry, and cigars.
At times Newton's objects were exposed, even proverbially elevated to a pedestal, at other times marginalized.
Ultimately, applied commercial photography, used for advertising purposes, represents one of the most important aspects of Newton's work.
A special exhibition of the Berlin Helmut Newton Foundation at the Museum of Photography, National Museums in Berlin.