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Best of September 2019 : Helmut Newton : Magnifier le désastre

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Dominique Baqué’s recently-published study of the ever-paradoxical Helmut Newton takes us deep into his creative psyche.   Philippe Garner reports Helmut Newton died fifteen years ago. His work lives on and constitutes a remarkable cultural legacy – uniquely provocative, perverse, multi-layered, and wilfully ambiguous. Born in 1920, Newton was fascinated by photography since his teenage years; but it was not until he was in his forties that his images started to reveal a distinct vision, and not until he was in his early fifties that this vision matured fully into the complex, compelling, disquieting imagery that is the basis of his notoriety. Dominique Baqué has published a book that explores with impressive acuity the darkest recesses of the creative psyche of this complex and in many ways seemingly contradictory character. Newton’s instinct as a personality and as an artist – a label he treated with caution but which he surely merits – was to maintain a teasing, dislocating sense of mystery. The cold, shocking, seductive, often morbid, always memorable pictures that he constructed were belied by the easy manner and...

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