Christie's, London, May 31, 2007, Lot 8.
Some people's photography is an art. Mine is not. If they happen to be exhibited in a gallery or a museum, that's fine. But that's not why I do them. I'm a gun for hire.
Post Lot Text
On November 1st 1976 Helmut Newton's New York agent Bob Fischer invoiced Xavier Coiffures of 7 West 57th Street for a 'One day location shooting at Xavier Coiffures, Inc. in black and white with models Winnie [Hollmann] and Patti Hansen'. On November 10th Newton wrote to Xavier, 'Here are the photos. I hope you like them. One day, when you don't need the negative of the 2 half nude girls under the drier anymore, I'd love to have it back here in Paris as I'd like to use it in my next book.... I think it looks very "New York".'
Newton had recently published his first book, White Women. He was in constant demand and enjoying a particularly productive period in his career. He made a powerful set of pictures for his friend Xavier, working with two favourite high-fashion models. The contacts were scrutinised and the best frames identified. Prints were made including mural-size enlargements for the salon -- not known to have survived -- and the present suite of nine prints that were preserved by Xavier until his death, together with contact sheets, negatives, model releases and other paperwork relating to the shoot. Newton did his best to keep all his negatives and contacts, though this was not always practical and there are a number of lacunae in his archive. In the case of the Xavier shoot, the moment passed and he did not pursue the return of these negatives or documents. As a consequence, he did not, despite his declared intention, exploit any of these remarkable images in his exhibitions or books.
The negatives have now been returned to the Helmut Newton Archive. These vintage prints survive as the testament to the photographer's brilliance as a 'gun for hire' -- we see his unique ability to exploit every commercial commission as the opportunity to develop his inimitable imagination while delivering a fabulous result to his client.