‘King of Kink’ exhibition opens at the Jewish Museum | The standard

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Fans of Helmut Newton’s iconic fashion images might be surprised to learn that the famed photographer spent years working in the Australian Army and was even detained as an enemy alien, assigned to latrine duties. . The photographer often dubbed the “King of Kink” is best known for his provocative shots for European glossy magazines including Elle, Vogue and Queen, and his work for some of the world’s top fashion houses. But even his longtime associate, the late fashion designer Karl Largerfeld, felt Newton had an “unknown and mysterious Australian period”, in the 1940s and 1950s. An exhibit that opens Friday at the Jewish Museum of Australia offers new insight into that era, exploring the months he spent as an “enemy alien” detained in the country of Victoria, his military service and the beginnings of his career in Melbourne. Newton fled Berlin in 1938 with a German passport stamped J for Jew, and arrived in Australia on the Queen Mary in 1940 aged 20, to be held in a World War II internment camp for nearly two years. Although he comes from a secular family, his life trajectory has been determined by his cultural identity, curator Eleni Papavasileiou told AAP. “Everything that happened to him in his life really happened precisely because he was Jewish,” she said. Among the 200 exhibits, the museum has sourced 45 works from the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, including shoots for Calvin Klein and Yves Saint Laurent. There are also personal letters and journal entries from the foundation on display, including the passport he used to escape from Berlin and flee to Australia via Singapore. Held in the Victorian town of Tatura, the man who would become one of the world’s most glamorous fashion photographers was assigned toilet cleaning duties. He was then released for war work as an “alien refugee” before joining the Australian Army in 1942. He officially changed his name from Neustaedter to Newton just after his release in 1946 and started a small business in photography at Flinders Lane in Melbourne. His work from this period shows the beginnings of a style that would see Newton become one of the world’s greatest photographers, according to Papavasileiou. “He was someone who loved precision and everything was incredibly staged and planned in his photography, and it was in stark contrast to his personal circumstances,” she said. Helmut Newton: In Focus is part of the PHOTO 22: Being Human International Festival of Photography. The exhibition opens from Friday 29 April. Australian Associated Press


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