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Helmut Newton

(Germany, Australia, France 1920 – 2004)

Upstairs at Maxim’s, Paris
Media category
Materials used
gelatin silver photograph
Print 3, Suite II, Edition No. 22/75

36.3 x 24.0 cm image; 40.5 x 30.3 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed l.l. verso, pencil "Helmut Newton". Not dated.
Gift of Edron Pty Ltd - 1995 through the auspices of Alistair McAlpine
Accession number
Unable to display image due to copyright restrictions © Estate of Helmut Newton
Not on display
Further information

‘Upstairs at Maxim’s’ indulges in another of Newton’s obsessions – the mannequin, which he first used in 1968. They allowed him to stage daring tableaux for French ‘Vogue’, in which, as he said: ‘Using live models would have been too risky.’1 While ‘Upstairs at Maxim’s’ appears at first glance to be a simple shot showing off women’s clothes, the opulent interior with the vacant mirror and the equally vacant mannequin take on a pathos and eroticism due to the simple action of the man kissing the inanimate hand – which has been detached.

Klaus Honnef has commented that ‘the totally artificial atmosphere of traditional fashion photography is missing in Newton’s work, and we can begin to sense a latent imaginative realm of fantasies, dreams and nightmares’.2 Hence Newton’s ability to shock his audience as he made quite explicit the relationship between body, clothes, environment and voyeurism.

1. Newton H 2003, ‘Autobiography’, Gerald Duckworth & Co, London p 145
2. Honnef K 1988, ‘Contemporary photographers’, 2nd ed, ed C Naylor, St James Press, Chicago/London p 758

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007

Bibliography (3)

Judy Annear, Discipline and Beauty - women, fashion, photography, Sydney, 1997.

Judy Annear, Look, 'Discipline & Beauty Women, Fashion and Photography', pg. 14-16, Heidelberg, Jul 1997, 16 (illus.).

Nicola Teffer, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Fashion and celebrity', pg.169-187, Sydney, 2007, 185 (illus.).

Exhibition history (2)

Discipline and Beauty, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Jun 1997–17 Aug 1997

The fashion of Helmut Newton and Bettina Rheims, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 09 Feb 2013–17 May 2013