The exhibition Helmut Newton. Brands brings together over 200 photographs, including many unknown motifs from Newton’s collaborations with internationally renowned brands such as Swarovski, Saint Laurent, Wolford, Blumarine, Redwall, and Lavazza.

When it came to composition and style, the photographer did not differentiate between magazine editorials and direct brand commissions, which were often arranged through advertising agencies. Newton referred to himself ironically as A Gun for Hire – a term that also served as the title of the 2005 posthumous exhibition of his commercial photography, shown first at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco and then at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. Included in the exhibition at that time was Newton’s extravagant, award-winning black-and-white ad campaign for Villeroy & Boch from 1985. Newton showed the brand’s sinks and toilet bowls being delivered to a prestigious villa – carried by young women – with constellations of figures more reminiscent of Raymond Chandler’s detective novels than everyday life. His aesthetic rendering of both luxurious and everyday products and the remarkable shift in conventional contexts of use are captivating. Only a few photographs from the earlier exhibition on Newton’s commercial photography will be on view in Helmut Newton. Brands – such as the magnificent black-and-white series for Absolut Vodka with Kristen McMenamy, produced in Sweden in 2000.

Helmut Newton. Brands picks up where A Gun for Hire left off, showcasing photographs Newton shot mainly in the 1980s and ’90s for high-paying advertising agencies and corporate clients, mostly in and around Monaco. In the three front exhibition rooms, we encounter fashion images produced for the luxury industry, such as Newton’s interpretations of Yves Saint Laurent’s latest fashion designs, from haute couture to prêt-à-porter. Newton’s productions from season to season are as diverse and individual as the women’s clothing he depicted. The visual compositions sometimes transcend reality, transporting us to distant emotional and exotic spheres.

The other two rooms show Newton’s commissioned works for Wolford, which were published in 1993 and 1994 as calendars for exclusive customers. Newton’s photographs were used on everything from pantyhose packaging to XXL formats on billboards, public buses, and building facades. Such shifts in size and context, of course, radically alter the effect of the photographs, even while the subjects remain the same: when presented in the public space, the women modeling pantyhose and tight-fitting bodysuits transform into giants. Newton shot the Wolford campaign in both black-and-white and color with several models in Monaco, mainly near the sea. His images of designer creations for the American luxury department store chain Neiman Marcus are also on display in the first three exhibition rooms. They include examples from Newton’s many years of close collaboration with Anna Molinari and her label Blumarine, featuring models such as Monica Bellucci, Carla Bruni, and Carré Otis, realized in Nice and Monaco in 1993 and 1994.

What all these advertising campaigns have in common: Newton only integrated a few images from his commercial photography series into his exhibitions and books during his lifetime. Now for the first time, Helmut Newton. Brands offers the possibility to experience these photo series in their entirety in a single exhibition.

Selected Works