With this exhibition, a project by the Fondazione di Venezia in partnership with Civita Tre Venezie, Casa dei Tre Oci confirms its position in the field of art and, above all, of photographic culture with its rooms exclusively devoted to photography. From 7 April to 7 August 2016, the exhibition Helmut Newton. Fotografie. White Women / Sleepless Nights / Big Nudes presents, for the first time in Venice, over 200 images by Helmut Newton, one of the most important and famous photographers of the twentieth century.
The show, curated by Matthias Harder and Denis Curti, and organized by Civita Tre Venezie in collaboration with the Helmut Newton Foundation, is the outcome of a project inspired in 2011 by June Newton, the widow of the great photographer.
The exhibition collects together images from “White Women”, “Sleepless Nights”, and “Big Nudes”, the first three books by Newton published at the end of the 1970s, books that are today considered legendary and which were the only ones to be edited by Newton himself. When selecting the photos, Newton interspersed a sequence, one next to another, of shots that had been commissioned with those he had made for himself, thus constructing a narrative which was a search for style, for the discovery of elegant gestures underpinned by the existence of a further reality, of something that it is up to the viewer to interpret.
For White Women, published in 1976, Newton chose 84 images (44 in color and 40 in black and white) and, for the first time, introduced nudity and eroticism into fashion photography. Balanced between art and fashion, the shots are mainly of female nudes through which he presented contemporary fashion.
Once again it is women, with their bodies and clothes, that are at the centre of Sleepless Nights, published in 1978. In this case, however, Newton began to explore a vision that transformed the images from fashion photos into portraits, and from portraits into reportage, almost as though they were crime scenes. This was a more retrospective book which contained 71 photos (33 in color and 38 in black and white) made for various magazines (Vogue included) and it was the one that defined his style and made it into an icon of fashion photography.
With this volume published in 1981, Newton arrived at his position of a leader in the history of images in the second half of the twentieth century. The 49 black and white shots of Big Nudes marked the beginning a new size for the photography of humans: those gigantic photos that, from this moment on, were to enter galleries and museums throughout the world.