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HELMUT NEWTON | INVESTING IN ART
One of the most infamous photographers in art history and best known of the twentieth century, Helmut Newton was an influential German-Australian fashion photographer and forefather of provocative aesthetics.
 
In Newton’s photography, his women command attention. They are treacherous, even menacing, yet always elegant. His portraits achieved international fame in the 1970s while Newton worked principally for French Vogue, and became celebrated for their controversial scenarios, bold lighting, hypersexualised poses and striking compositions.
Even though he was famously called ‘the Antichrist’ by groups of radical feminists, Helmut Newton considered himself a feminist who celebrated triumphant, strong women - but not without controversy. He had an individual and highly erotic style which bordered on the sadomasochistic, and this was a first for the fashion world. His motive underscored his bold images and revealed itself as decadence and cruelty woven into complex stories of independent sex and power. It is this quality to his art that endures and has left its mark on the history of photography.

His life started off both exciting and terrifying. Born in 1920, he grew up as a German Jew and fled increasing oppression in Germany in 1938. He worked in Singapore and Australia during World War II, serving in the Australian army, but was never far from the beloved camera that his father bought him when he was 12 years old. Perhaps it was by way of the extreme circumstances of his youth that Newton’s later photographic work evolved as charged and boundary-breaking. Now, in the 21st century, he is still considered the reigning master of erotic photography, the ‘king of kink’. His famed oeuvre ranges from dominant nude women, who radiate a sense of empowerment, to black-and-white portraiture of figures that include Margaret Thatcher to David Bowie, Leonardo DiCaprio and Sophia Loren.
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Cyberwoman 1 , 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
11.81(w) x 15.75(h) inches
Silver Gelatin print. Stamped and numbered
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 3,450.00 Available from a private collection
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No other photographer at Eyestorm has impressed collectors as Newton has. His Sumo, a monograph published in 1999, that Eyestorm had a hand in promoting, was the largest book of the 20th century and sold in many thousand copies for an astounding £6,000 / $8,000 each. The first edition, signed by 80 celebrities photographed by Newton, was later sold at an auction for $430,000. The 30kg Sumo became known as one of the most sought-after photography books, further asserting Helmut Newton as the ‘king of nudes’ and the king of fashion photography.

Towards the end of Newton’s life, in 2000, Eyestorm collaborated with the photographer on the Cyberwoman Series. Seven images were created, of models posing in everyday locations around Los Angeles. They celebrated and shaped new ideas of female identity, documenting and challenging societal taboos. In Cyberwoman 3, Newton’s model, naked from the waist down and sitting with her legs spread in a typically masculine pose points to the changing attitudes towards sex and gender that the artist aimed to capture at the turn of the century. In a domestic setting, Cyberwoman 6 juxtaposes the banality of the home and a woman’s traditional role there, against the brazen nudity of the female figure. The standing light accentuates the form of the model while her relation to the potential danger of heat from the radiator or a sighting through the large curtainless window adds an element of tension into the work. These women were not Cyberbots or Desperate Housewives, content to carry out day to day chores in confinement. They were liberated in the series.
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Cyberwoman 6 , 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
11.81(w) x 15.75(h) inches
Silver Gelatin prin. Edition of 500. Stamped and numbered
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 3,450.00 Available from a private collection
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The term for the series 'Cyberwoman'; also came from the notion of ‘Cyberspace’, which was the place where these works were first promoted as photographic editions. Eyestorm was the first art gallery to offer exclusive limited editions online and although Newton was 80 years old at the time, he was not afraid of the technological change at the beginning of the new millennium, rather, he experimented with it; a true innovator. The series succinctly captured the core themes of a lifetime of work and has been given due recognition ever since. The Cyberwoman Series indeed joins a prestigious list of reoccurring and successful photographic prints in the market that consistently do well at auction. His 20th century contemporaries like Richard Avedon and Irvin Penn feature often at auction, as well as living artists such as Cindy Sherman and Andreas Gursky. It does appear that in the larger auction houses you tend to see the same names, and indeed the same images by those photographers, sell again and again. Cyberwoman 7 has been the most successful of the series to date, commanding prices upwards of £2500.00 for a print from the series of 500. Over 17 years the series has grown in value by almost 650% from the starting price.
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Cyberwoman 7 , 2000

30(w) x 40(h) cm
11.81(w) x 15.75(h) inches
Silver Gelatin print. Edition of 500. Stamped and numbered
Edition of 500
PRICE
$ 3,450.00 Available from a private collection
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One of the things that can get in the way of buying vintage photographs for investment is the fear of saturation: what, after all, could be easier to reproduce? This is a pertinent question, but fortunately, modern dating techniques have made photographic fraud quite difficult, and there are clear guidelines to follow. In broad terms, the price of vintage photographs is determined by the age of the photograph, condition and provenance and Newton’s prints are frequently sought after despite their fairly large edition sizes of 500 per image. Every one of the vintage silver gelatin prints are numbered on the recto, along with the unique artist stamp. Consistently priced throughout his career, Newton’s work at auction perform increasingly well. Examples of robust sales figures include life-sized, Big Nude III, Henrietta, one of his most iconic shots, which fetched $482,500 in 2008. In 2007 a Big Nude was fetching $380,000 and $404,400 in 2015. His greatest achievement, his Walking Women, featuring empowered women together in a group, went to a collector for $900,000 in 2015. His merits mirror his auction results as well; In 1990 he was awarded the Grand Prix National de la Photographie in Paris, and Officier des Arts, Lettres et Sciences in Monaco in 1992. Life Magazine gave him the ‘Life Legend Award for Lifetime Achievement in Magazine Photography’ in 1999.
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Cyberwoman 2 , 2000

38(w) x 28(h) cm
14.96(w) x 11.02(h) inches
Silver Gelatin print. Edition of 500. Stamped and numbered
PRICE
$ 3,450.00 Available from a private collection
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Helmut Newton is spoken of as 'the world’s greatest visual artist' by the author JG Ballard, the onus of this opinion based on the idea that he did not objectify women for his own pleasure, but for their own instead. He gave strength to women, he showed their true magnificence and beauty in each of his works. He depicted their sensuality, their tall, statuesque figures, their unique personalities. Newton’s photographs presented women as the rule-makers instead of the rule-obeying. He created a world in which women could live out their fantasies and feel powerful and assertive. He made women feel like true women - unapologetic in their beauty, uninterested in the opinions of men. Newton’s often provocative images were not created for the pleasure of his clients, as he said “If there’s one thing I hate it’s good taste. To me, it’s a dirty word.”

The ‘Cyberwomen Series’ can be found here
 
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