I always associate Helmut Newton with Waterstone’s Piccadilly – back in the day when Waterstone’s Piccadilly was an interesting destination not just another branch. Their photography section may still have a copy of Sumo (£9,000 – comes with its own stand) and if they do I hope its casting its spell over people just as it hooked me. Newton, who died in 2004, specialised in crisp black and white images which feature a mix and match of explicit female nudity, eroticism, power and glamour. The exhibition at Hamiltons is a collection of limited edition prints and I dodged the showers to have a peek.
There are 19 “selected works” for sale and the largest edition is 15; a few are unique. They are all in the essential Newton style. The most obvious meditation on sex and power is provided by “Fashion Model with Bismarck Monument” which, aside from everything else, is a triumph of mastering composition and depth of field. It should also be required viewing for anyone who wants to understand how putting two different unrelated objects within the same frame can imply a connection and deeper meaning. It would look great on my wall but a quick google shows a non limited edition retailing at £26,000 and this is 1 of 10. I imagine its eventual home will not be too far from its current gallery space in Carlos Place.
There are other potentially iconic works here too. “Cash Room at Caesears Palace” is a great bling shot that both wryly observes and casually celebrates excess and ill-gotten gains; in “Men measuring woman” a potentially sleazy moment is, through the posing and expressions, given a raw feminine power. Elsewhere I’m not sure that I can get much subtle meaning from “Saddle II” or “Eri Ishidi with gun” but then for people who wish to make a purchase the blood is probably heading in the wrong direction for thinking. The majority of the works are taut and, if you like this sort of thing, magnificent photography and the prints here are high quality. In the scheme of things I’m sure they are well worth whatever amount you are told after enquiring.
The nice folk at Hamiltons have a selection on their website (see here) but this is well worth a little diversion to see for yourself. Newton has an undeserved reputation amongst some as a one-dimensional or exploitative photography. Even though the subject matter fits the stereotype this is a nice partial riposte,