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Astonishing exhibition of the life and work of photographer Helmut Newton launches late April in Melbourne



Fashionistas will rejoice at the news that the exhibition Helmut: In Focus will launch in Melbourne on April 29th, at the Jewish Museum of Australia: Gandel Centre of Judaica.

The exhibition is an extensive exploration of the life and work of German-born photographer, Helmut Newton, famous for his fashion photography and stunning celebrity portraiture.

Helmut: In Focus will delve into Newton’s early career, shining a light on his Jewish roots and early life in Berlin, charting his post-war life and work in Melbourne, and sharing details of his relationship with his Australian-born wife – actress, artist and photographer June Newton (who worked under the pseudonym, Alice Springs).

“Helmut Newton’s fantasy and voyeuristic worlds were the work of a highly driven and resilient man who left an incredible artistic legacy,” said Jewish Museum of Australia Senior Curator and Collections Manager, Eleni Papavasileiou.”

“He teased, provoked, shocked and raised uncomfortable questions; but where did it all stem from?” 

“Papavasileiou continues: “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.”
Visitors will get to view diary entries, letters, tidbits and of course plenty of photographs: a magnificent montage that made up the life of one of the world’s most renowned lensman.

Some visitors might be surprised to learn, for example, that Newton once had a photography studio on the top floor of a building in Melbourne’s Flinders Lane in 1946 where he set about building a career as a photographer in the city’s fashion, social and theatre circles. Through this period, Newton forged a lasting bond with Melbourne (and with Australia, more broadly), which is explored in never-before-seen detail in this exhibition. 

Polarising, surprising, loved and loathed, Newton’s photographs would push boundaries and challenge norms surrounding the depiction of women and feminine strength – not only in fashion but in photography, visual art, film and culture, more broadly.

Across his decades-long career, Newton photographed such luminaries as Grace Jones, Claudia Schiffer, Isabella Rossellini, 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
Now many of those works are brought together under the one grand roof.

Antonino Tati

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