Helmut Newton

(Germany, Australia, France 1920 – 2004)

Upstairs at Maxim’s, Paris

Location
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

Year
1978
Media
Photograph
Medium
gelatin silver photograph
Dimensions
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.
Credit
Gift of Edron Pty Ltd - 1995 through the auspices of Alistair McAlpine
Accession number
335.1996
Copyright
Unable to display image due to copyright restrictions © Estate of Helmut Newton