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17 The smouldering Helmut Newton as seen by the women who knew him, in a new documentary

The smouldering Helmut Newton as seen by the women who knew him, in a new documentary


As we celebrate the centenary of his birth, Germano-Australian photographer Helmut Newton is being honoured in the first posthumous documentary on his subject. Entitled “The Bad and the Beautiful”, this film which has already been released in Germany, delivers previously unseen accounts - all from women - on the work of this great master of the nude and smouldering voyeurism.

© Helmut Newton © Helmut Newton
© Helmut Newton

“Any photographer who claims not to be a voyeur is either an idiot or a liar”: is a perfect example Helmut Newton’s outspoken approach to life. Having passed away in 2004, he is and will always remain one of the most influential fashion and nude photographers in the world. Imitated but never equalled, his photographs are shocking, sensual and incredibly elegant all at once, and forged him an international reputation.  From the 1970s onwards the Berlin photographer started doing nudes for major publications including VogueVanity Fair and Harper’s Bazaar. From the “Naked and Dressed” series where an army of models struck identical poses fully dressed and then only wearing shoes, to the famously provocative portrait of Catherine Deneuve in 1976, Helmut Newton’s monochromatic oeuvre is populated with powerful and triumphant women, all endowed with an assertive and explicit sensuality. Sometimes showered with compliments, sometimes regarded as a misogynist objectifying the female body, this photographer has long divided opinions. But what was Helmut Newton's real ambition?


This is the question asked by the first posthumous documentary dedicated to Helmut Newton, entitled The Bad and the BeautifulWritten and directed by Gero Von Boehm, a close friend of the artist, the film looks back at the life of a rebel who was way ahead of his time and reveals a previously unknown aspect to his personality: we discover a man bursting with humour on his photo shoots, as those who were close to him reveal moments of intimacy and unknown controversies. Already on general release in Germany, the documentary brings together the important women – and only the women - in his life and work to discuss him. A deliberate decision by Gero Von Boehm whose precise goal is to put their voices at the heart of the matter and the attention of the viewer. Thus we see the photographer’s wife June Newton, the model Claudia Schiffer and Anna Wintour, among many others, sharing their experiences alongside this great artist.


Already released in Germany, set for release at the Film Forum in New York and highly anticipated in France, although no date has yet been confirmed. 

“The Bad and The Beautiful”