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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sumo Wrestling

So hefty was Sumo, the behemoth Helmut Newton book published ten years ago by Taschen, that it came with its own custom-designed Philippe Starck stand. The titanic tome—edited by the photog's wife, the great June Newton—immediately became a symbol of its status-obsessed time, as requisite a display of cultivated wealth as a Poggenpohl kitchen and a high thread count. To commemorate the anniversary, the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin will show all 394 photographs beginning June 4, while the publisher is set to release a more humanely sized edition for aficionados of the late lensman's kinky glamour.

—Suleman Anaya

Benedikt Taschen & Helmut Newton, 2000

Villa d'Este, Lake Como, Italy 1975

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Dark Star

Before Tilda there was Andrew. That's just one takeaway from spending a few hours with the absorbing early films of Derek Jarman. Before he went on to make feature-length ruminations on beauty, homoeroticism and death (Caravaggio, Blue), the experimental British filmmaker, who himself died of AIDS in 1994, broached the same heavy themes in short works shot in the grainy, washed-out warmth of Super 8 film.

The X initiative, a year-long series of quality art programming housed in the space formerly occupied by Dia:Chelsea, is screening these rare gems on three floors, offering a perfect Saturday afternoon antidote of artsy malaise to the annoying chirpiness that befalls the city in spring. Poetic, cryptic and relentlessly melancholy (classical music helps set the tone), the nearly twenty films range from the macabre pretty-boy ballet of "Death Dance" to the high-camp artifice of "Andrew Logan Kisses the Glitterati," featuring a likely Jarman lover playing dress-up with a blasé coterie of friends. In other films, the eye is sated with images of Victorian boathouses, Stonehenge-like formations, mirrors, rituals and the distorted face of Genesis P-Orridge, frontman of cult industrial band Throbbing Gristle.

There's notable fashion too. Entire sequences recall a Helmut Newton shoot, while the getups for said dress-up party seem lifted straight out of a Saint Laurent collection circa 1975. Lovers of avant-garde sadness had better hurry though; the films are on view through the end of the month only.

—Suleman Anaya

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where There's Smoke

Here's a juicy little story for the ages. In 1964, Helmut Newton was hired to shoot the latest Courrèges collection exclusively for Queen magazine. Of course he was also working for French Vogue, and when they got wind of the exclusive, all Heloise broke loose and he was summarily fired. Until, that is, along came the next editrix-in-chief, Francine Crescent. Helmut considered his fashion work during her regime his best. Launching November 30 at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, Fired is an exhibition of these photographs. Read all about it after the jump...