Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful
July 24–October 4, 2020
Marianne Faithfull, June Newton, Anna Wintour, Charlotte Rampling,
To craft this intimate portrait of the influential fashion photographer Helmut Newton (1920–2004), Gero von Boehm skips the usual phalanx of critics and historians and turns instead to the brilliant women who were Newton’s subjects and collaborators. A self-described “gun for hire,” Newton is oft quoted as saying the dirtiest words in photography are art and good taste, and he ignored the dictates of both throughout his career to create provocative images that play with the codes of sexual, economic, and political power. Offering nuanced analyses of the photographs and their own roles in making the pictures, Grace Jones, Hanna Schygulla, Isabella Rossellini, and others describe what it was like working with Newton and share thoughts about his aesthetic influences and cultural significance. The women’s commentary is interspersed with his iconic images, interviews, and documentation of Newton at work, as the film traces his remarkable trajectory from Berlin through Singapore, Australia, back to Europe, and on to the United States. Near the start of the movie, Newton complains that documentaries about photographers are always boring; Helmut Newton: The Bad and the Beautiful is anything but.