The Masters of Sensuality: Newton, Horvat, Brodziak

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4_Helmut Newton, David Bowie, bedroom Kempinski Ho
Helmut Newton, David Bowie, Bedroom at the Kempinski Hotel, Berlin, 1983© Helmut Newton Estate

Exploring sensuality and glamour through the infamous lenses of three giants of fashion photography

Three great names that stand for even greater talents. The undisputed masters of fashion and nude photography, Helmut Newton, Frank Horvat and Szymon Brodziak are the subjects of an exciting new show in Berlin. Fulfilling Newton’s wish that his work would be presented alongside that of others, the three-section exhibition will showcase 300 images from different phases of the artists’ creative lives, including over 70 vintage prints of Newton’s most iconic fashion stories, nudes and self-portraits. From sexually-charged monochrome series to celebrity portraits and bedroom encounters with the likes of David Hockney, Charlotte Rampling and David Bowie, Newton. Horvat. Brodziak promises to be one to remember. After all Newton himself once proclaimed that "my job is to seduce, amuse and entertain," and that’s exactly what this exhibition achieves.

Born in 1920s Berlin to a liberal and wealthy Jewish family, Helmut Newton witnessed history’s most appalling crimes, yet his art focused on the glamour and style of those times. A notorious voyeur and supporter of gender equality in the late 1960s, Newton’s erotic black-and-white images became the backbone of some of the world's most renowned magazines, including Vogue and Playboy, and he swiftly became known as a pioneer of the provocative aesthetics. From the day he picked up his first camera at the age of 12 to the evening in 2004 when his Cadillac fatally crashed on Sunset Boulevard, Newton established himself as one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century – a social impact that, condensed into the single volume Sumo, weighs over 35 kilos.

Since relocating to Paris in the 1950s, Italian-born Frank Horvat has worked for fashion’s biggest publications, including Elle, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. During that time Horvat also met Newton, and the two would go on to become friends and colleagues, sharing a creative dialogue that is wonderfully expressed in an intimate 1986 interview where they cackle with recognition over the idea that, “Genius and taste don’t go together.” Without a doubt one of the greats in his field, Horvat has challenged traditions, determined to always add unexpected elements to his pictures. With the social factor at the core of his practice, his photographs of models and ordinary people in public surroundings have contributed to shaping a new spirit of photography. While he’s widely regarded as a staple of the fashion world, Horvat’s photographic oeuvre spans photojournalism, portraiture, landscape and art.

Learning from the best, Szymon Brodziak has made a name for himself as a powerful visual storyteller. Born in Poland in 1979 and with a degree in economics in his hands, Brodziak discovered his passion for fashion and commercial photography when he was still a student. Famous for his steamy nudes and masterful choice of setting, he has taken the best from both his illustrious predecessors. While embracing the clichés and beauty standards of fashion and nude photography, Brodziak questions its limitations by creating photographic compositions that are altogether real and surprising. Considered one of the finest black-and-white campaign photographers working today, at 36, Brodziak’s future couldn’t look brighter.

Newton. Horvat. Brodziak is at the Museum für Fotografie until November 15.