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Helmut Newton: Private Property (Schirmer's Visual Library) Paperback – April 17, 1993
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This book would earn an R rating if it were a motion picture.
To me, Mr. Newton's fashion work is most often about sexual fantasies involving women where the women are eager participants in the frolicing. The fantasies are often rather extreme and of a hard-edge variety. They are not for those who look for purity and spirituality in sexual relations.
Some of the quotes in this book capture the feeling of Mr. Newton's work here very well. "Newton is an erotic powder keg, a vicious knife, in the midst of the 16th arrondissement salon." This refers to his focusing on upper class women in his fantasies. Mr. Newton himself said, "I don't deserve to be called King of Kink." That title was given to him by others for his tendency to invoke what are considered by many to be symbols of bondage. As Matthew Klein said (and most would agree), "His fantasies are extraordinary." "He puts into play strange forces of domination, of the exploitive . . . ." To a large extent, his photographs deal with his own sexual language and imagination. Within this, his women are shown as being strong people.
As reproduced here, these are my favorite images:
Jenny Kapitan, Berlin, 1977 (She is unclothed, encased in a leg cast and a neck brace, while leaning on a cane, but maintains a dignified beauty and strength.)
Hotel Room, Paris, 1976
Tied up Torso, Ramatuelle, 1980
Self-Portrait with wife and model, Paris, 1981 (This is perhaps his most famous self-portrait, and is a signature work to many.)
David Bowie, Monte Carlo, 1982
Sylvia in my studio, Paris, 1981
Woman examining man, Saint Tropez, 1975 (A confident, well-dressed woman appraises a passing man while sitting in a male-dominant posture -- an interesting role reversal as a social commentary.)
Sie Kommen, Paris, 1981 (A group of undraped runway models march forward confidently and boldly as though they are "modeling their own skin." This image is often shown with the clothed version next to it, but not in this book.)
Andy Warhol, Paris, 1976
Personally, I think that Mr. Newton is a better portrait artist than a fashion artist. This volume suffers for being light on portraits.
After viewing these images, I encourage you to think about how fantasies can be inspiring rather than salacious. What is the line between the two? What does an image have to look like to inspire both women and men in a sexual situation? In any other situation?
Be open to seeing the world for its best potential, always!
The format brings to mind the TASCHEN postcard paperbacks except that the pages in this petite book are bound, so it'll survive normal use.
It starts with some pondering text by Mr. Marshall Blonsky. On page 17, Mr. Philippe Garner reveals that the original "Private Property" work contains three suites of portfolios each containing 15 original selenium toned signed prints, with a total of 45. The monochrome images date from between 1972 and 1983. I can not even imagine what such a set would cost if it would be for sale....
The price for this paperback is so slight (10.95 USD printed on the back of my paperback) that it is well worth the purchase if only to glance trough it for a while...and then end up in giving it away and investing in a real book by Mr. Helmut Newton.