Helmut Newton (Helmut Neustädter), (born 1920, Berlin, Germany.—died 2004, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A.), German-born fashion photographer who revolutionized his field by introducing the element of danger and the transgressive with his sexy, fetishistic photographs. Each shot implied a story behind it, usually ambiguous, sometimes violent, and always sexually charged, while his models—chiefly tall, cool, blonde women—were often clad in little or nothing but stiletto heels.
Newton, who was born into a wealthy Jewish family in the often decadent Weimar Republic, fled Nazi Germany with his parents in 1938. The 18-year-old chose to seek his fortune in Singapore, but he was interned as an enemy alien and sent to Australia. He served in the Australian army from 1940 to 1945 and settled in Sydney after the war.
In 1948 he married Australian model and actress June Brunell, who became his collaborator and colleague. In 1956 the Newtons moved to London, and a year later they moved to Paris, where he found work with high-fashion magazines such as Vogue, Elle, and Marie-Claire.
By the 1970s he had gained an international reputation. Although some critics denounced Newton’s work as near pornography, his popularity did not diminish as he aged, and his provocative photographs were in demand up until the time of his death in a car accident.
Newton portrait by Mark Arbeit