HELMUT NEWTON (1920–2004)
HELMUT NEWTON (1920–2004)
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HELMUT NEWTON (1920–2004)

Panoramic Nude, Woman with Gun, Villa d'Este, Como, 1989

HELMUT NEWTON (1920–2004)
Panoramic Nude, Woman with Gun, Villa d'Este, Como, 1989
gelatin silver print, flush-mounted on board
signed and dated (verso); credited, titled, dated and numbered on affixed gallery label (frame backing board)
image: 59 x 19 7/8 in. (149.7 x 50.5 cm.)
sheet/flush mount: 62 1/2 x 22 in. (158.8 x 55.9 cm.)
This work is number two from an edition of three.
Hamiltons Gallery, London;
acquired from the above by a private collector;
Sotheby's, New York, April 22, 2006, lot 196;
acquired from the above sale by the present owner.
José Alvarez, Helmut Newton Archives de Nuit, Schirmer Art Books, Munich, 1992, pl. 42.
Manfred Heiting (ed.), Helmut Newton: Work, Taschen, Cologne, 2000, p. 227.
Helmut Newton, Helmut Newton: XL, Hamiltons, London, 2007, n.p.

Brought to you by

Shlomi Rabi
Shlomi Rabi

Lot Essay

“My job as a portrait photographer is to seduce, amuse and entertain.”— Helmut Newton

Erotic and resplendent in stature, Helmut Newton’s nudes are subjects of desire and sovereign agents, boldly exploring the fantastical milieus that Newton constructs. The subject of Panoramic Nude, Woman with Gun, Villa d'Este, Como, 1989 finds herself in a fraught, beatific scene, armed with a pistol while ascending the steps of an Italian villa, tensed and poised for action. Architectural in pose, her towering contrapposto is complemented by the classical steps beneath her and echoed by the lofty palm trees behind her.

This photoshoot was originally commissioned in 1989 for Max magazine, an Italian glossy, and Newton chose the Hotel Villa d’Este for its spectacular 16th-century architecture, beautifully preserved and still accessible in Lake Como. It was a favored location for Newton, having shot there in 1975 and again in 1980. Four variations of this image exist. All four were published in 1992 in the book Archives de Nuit, and were intended to be printed in an edition of 10 (at a smaller size, about 22 x 8 in.) and an edition of 3 (approx. 60 x 20 in.) It is not known if all four images, were, in fact, realized in their originally intended editions. The year after this image was taken, Max magazine came out with a calendar, and included the image in the current lot as the month of March.

The subject of Panoramic Nude, Woman with Gun, Villa d'Este, Como, 1989 wears a discreet veil across her face, complete with oversize cat-eyed sunglasses, sleek dark hair and pointed pumps. This image hails from a later period of Newton’s output, more distanced from work with commercial or editorial undertones and imbued with rich performativity. She is an imagined character in a storyline shared by photographer and viewer, a titillating snapshot from a choose-your-own-adventure narrative. The male figure in the background, ominously cloaked in an overcoat, peers through dark glasses over the shoulder of the central femme fatale—a reminder of the ambiguity of the viewer’s own voyeurism. The monumental scale of the print further emphasizes the underlying drama and the model’s commanding, Amazonian qualities.

It seemed Newton was able to catch a moment of a reality about to happen. The adventure could go on or not. He starts imagination the spectator is left with desire to pursue the narrative, complete the scenario. So Newton awakens desire, he gives the spectator an appetite for a good story (Marshall Blonsky, ‘What Newton’s “Pornography” Means’, p. 9).

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