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CURRENT VIEWING: FRAMES FROM THE EDGE: HELMUT NEWTON

All those models who were privileged to have an American Vogue sitting with Newton should clutch their tears and weep for joy .All those models who were privileged to have an American Vogue sitting with Newton should clutch their tears and weep for joy .

A certain notorious model once told me the best Helmut Newton story ever. It takes place in Paris where our fearless young thing is sent to see Helmut. She was a smart cookie so she knew what that meant. A chance for fashion history. She slicks her hair back, wipes a slash of crimson lipstick across her mouth. Ultra-vamp. She walks in to the studio. Helmut Newton takes one look at her and says.."Too skinny...no ass...the tits are horrible. No!" Our girl though is a fighter. She's not down for the count. She counters "But I'll photograph kilos heavier than I look in person and it's all muscle. I'm strong. I play sports. I can do anything you need physically." She told me Helmut recoiled and said "Why are you still speaking ?" She fights on "But..." He shuts it down with "And you're STILL speaking. Dear God!" before turning on his heel and walking away. Helmut Newton. He was never nice to the models and never even tried to fake that. He never gave his polaroids away. His lighting set-ups were often times dead simple...a lamp in a hotel room used as a source light balanced by the natural light seeping through the opening of a heavy velvet curtain. He sometimes shot at near noon, that moment where shadows are the most harsh and unflattering. Watching "Frames From The Edge", you realize apart from from having the obvious penchant for kinky sex, Mr Newton also could give you an exposure that made the lighting sit up and beg. The film chronicles his shoots which make for a perverse act of fascination. It is a voyeuristic excursion in which you watch a master voyeur controlling his fantasies and fetishes as they are made flesh. So there you have it...his id unbridled but yet that id is harnessed for the purpose of the image with brutal, ruthless discipline. I mean, those compositions! All those haute bourgeoise set-pieces...all that moneyed clutter ...whipped into place. Frequently imitated and never duplicated. Helmut Newton's two favorite places to live were Monaco and Los Angeles. (ie Heavy Money Spots and glittering cities of pure artifice) He found the climate and light in both those locations inspiring. He says so in this documentary. Watch this film and you will realize the secret to Newton's success was he was not copying anyone. His eye was his truth and he never lied to you.

Taste is a dictatorship.

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