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A leading photographer of the 20th century, Helmut Newton lived and worked in Monaco. The exhibition “Newton, Riviera”, which runs until 13 November 2022, looks back at his ties to the Côte d’Azur and the Principality.

“I love the sunshine. We don’t see it in Paris any more.” These were, allegedly, the words spoken by Helmut Newton to the Monegasque official in charge of processing his papers, when the photographer moved to Monaco. The German-born Newton, widely considered to be among the greatest fashion photographers of his generation, lived in the Principality from 1981 until his death in 2004 at the age of 83.

Experts agree that “creatively speaking, Newton’s Monegasque years are his finest”. It was during this prolific period that his fashion photography came to display a greater sense of freedom, whilst he cultivated a taste for the theatrical, a hypnotic eroticism, and an abrasive sense of humour.

Newton made the Principality the setting for his photography. Hotels, terraces, beaches… He even used construction sites in campaigns for luxury fashion houses, and the garage of his apartment building for several series.

Helmut Newton Untitled, Saint-Tropez ,1975 Tirage jet d’encre / Fine Art Inkjet Print Collection Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin © Helmut Newton Foundation
Helmut Newton Legs coming home, Monte-Carlo, 1987 Tirage jet d’encre / Fine Art Inkjet Print Collection Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin © Helmut Newton Foundation

It was in the Principality that he produced a great many portraits of “beautiful people”, some of whom had taken up residence in Monaco, others merely passing through. He also took portraits of the Princely Family and the dancers of the Ballets de Monte-Carlo, the heirs to the famous Russian ballets of Diaghilev that revolutionised classical dance in the early 20th century.

For this photograph of Princess Caroline, Newton used a small, waterproof disposable camera. It is probably one of the rare images taken on the fly.

Guillaume de Sardes, French author, photographer, director and exhibition curator.

Helmut Newton -Caroline, Monaco, 1985 - Tirage jet d'encre, Collection Helmut Newton Foundation, Berlin © Helmut Newton Foundation
© PHOTO STEPHANE KOVALSKY pour le NMNM

Newton also tried his hand at landscape photography and created more “personal” images with surrealist themes, like the mirror, the eye and voyeurism, the doll and the mannequin, sadomasochism, or the night. Of his personal series, “Yellow Press” evokes crime scenes with a disconcerting touch of glamour about them…

The exhibition “Newton Riviera”, hosted at the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco (NMNM) in collaboration with the Helmut Newton Foundation, from 17 June to 13 November, looks back at the photographer’s enchanting and eccentric creations. It focuses on Newton’s relationship with the Riviera, from the Côte-d’Azur to Bordighera, in Italy, through a collection of 280 photographs selected by curators Guillaume de Sardes and Matthias Harder.

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