There are many kinds of artists and there are many kinds of photographers, but there are few who pushed the limits of acceptability quite like Helmut Newton. The German-Australian visual pioneer became famous for his provocative and sexually charged photography, which graced the pages of magazines such of Vogue. His work was controversial and debate continues over his depiction of female subjects, whether it’s empowering or whether he’s just treating them as sex objects.
In Gero Von Boehm new documentary, Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful, he interviews a number of the late artist’s subjects to get to the heart of the matter. These include Grace Jones, Marianne Faithfull, Charlotte Rampling and Isabella Rossellini. They discuss Newton’s life and work throughout his career, the relentless creativity and what lies behind the themes which cut through his output.
First and foremost, Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful puts the photographer’s work (full) front(al) and centre. Regardless of what you think of the subject matter, there’s no denying that his photographs are powerful. Through thoughtful discourse with a range of voices, Von Boehm builds up a picture of a man well ahead of his time. Someone who revolutionised and innovated without caring what anyone else thought.
Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful is available on Curzon Home Cinema and Digital download from Blue Finch Film Releasing on 23 October.