Sumo. Helmut NEWTON.


Köln: Taschen, 1999. Item #04752

The Biggest and Most Expensive Book Production of the 20th Century

NEWTON, Helmut. Sumo. Köln: Taschen, 1999.

First Edition, limited to 10,000 copies numbered and signed by the photographer, this being copy 3203.

Elephant folio (27 1/2 x 19 1/2 inches; 700 x 500 mm). 464 pages. 450 duotone and color plates.

Publisher's full white silk with black and white photograph and blue lettering silkscreened to front cover, and spine silkscreen lettered in blue. Beveled edges. Near fine in like dust jacket.

Originally published at $6500, Sumo is a monumental book in every respect, and a testimony to the enormous talent of the twentieth century's most influential, intriguing and controversial photographer. With its massive size and weight (66 lbs.; 30 kg.) and containing 464 pages, it breaks any previous record for a book. A truly unique publication when originally published, Sumo is exceeded in size and heft only by Taschen’s later tribute to Muhammad Ali, G.O.A.T. (2004).

Edited and designed by the photographer’s wife, June Newton, a renowned photographer in her own right who works under the pseudonym, Alice Springs, the book features a wide selection of photographs, most of which are published here for the first time. They cover every aspect of Newton's outstanding career, from his stunning fashion photographs, which have influenced a generation of photographers, to his nudes and celebrity portaits. Newton’s work has had a major impact on both high and low Western culture, and his importance remains undiminished. He died in 2004 at age eighty-four of a heart attack while driving out of the parking lot of the Chateau Marmont hotel on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles.

In defiance of the much-loved Japanese discipline that inspired the title of this colossal work, there is no need for an owner of this book to wrestle with Sumo or be otherwise injured while perusing its leaves.

Cover design by Angelika Taschen. Color separations carried out by ORD, Gronau, Germany. Printed by EBS, Editoriale Bortolazzi - STEI s.r.l. Verona, Italy on 250 gram BVS-Plus matt paper manufactured by Papierfabrik Scheufelen, Lenningen, Germany. Bound by Legatora LEM & Recalcati s.r.l. Milano, Italy.

Winner of the International Center of Photography’s 1999 Infinity award.

"Women naked or dressed, portraits of the famous, and provocative mises-en-scène: 450 photographs by one of the greatest photographers of our time in a quite exceptional format." Le Temps Geneva

Helmut Newton (born Helmut Neustädter; (1920-2004) was a German-Australian photographer. He was a "prolific, widely imitated fashion photographer whose provocative, erotically charged black-and-white photos were a mainstay of Vogue and other publications." Newton was born in Berlin, the son of Klara "Claire" (née Marquis) and Max Neustädter, a Jewish button factory owner. Newton attended the Heinrich-von-Treitschke-Realgymnasium and the American School in Berlin. Interested in photography from the age of 12 when he purchased his first camera, he worked for the German photographer Yva (Elsie Neuländer Simon) from 1936.

The increasingly oppressive restrictions placed on Jews by the Nuremberg laws meant that his father lost control of the factory in which he manufactured buttons and buckles; he was briefly interned in a concentration camp on Kristallnacht, 9 November 1938, which finally compelled the family to leave Germany. Newton's parents fled to Argentina. He was issued with a passport just after turning 18 and left Germany on 5 December 1938. At Trieste he boarded the Conte Rosso (along with about 200 others escaping the Nazis), intending to journey to China. After arriving in Singapore he found he was able to remain there, first briefly as a photographer for the Straits Times and then as a portrait photographer. Newton was interned by British authorities while in Singapore and was sent to Australia on board the Queen Mary, arriving in Sydney on 27 September 1940. Internees traveled to the camp at Tatura, Victoria, by train under armed guard. He was released from internment in 1942 and briefly worked as a fruit picker in Northern Victoria. In August 1942, he enlisted with the Australian Army and worked as a truck driver. After the war in 1945, he became a British subject and changed his name to Newton in 1946. In 1948, he married actress June Browne, who performed under the stage name June Brunell. She later became a successful photographer under the ironic pseudonym Alice Springs (after Alice Springs, the central Australian town).

In 1946, Newton set up a studio in fashionable Flinders Lane in Melbourne and worked on fashion, theatre and industrial photography in the affluent postwar years. He shared his first joint exhibition in May 1953 with Wolfgang Sievers, a German refugee like himself, who had also served in the same company. The exhibition of 'New Visions in Photography' was displayed at the Federal Hotel in Collins Street and was probably the first glimpse of New Objectivity photography in Australia. Newton went into partnership with Henry Talbot, a fellow German Jew who had also been interned at Tatura, and his association with the studio continued even after 1957, when he left Australia for London. The studio was renamed 'Helmut Newton and Henry Talbot'. Newton's growing reputation as a fashion photographer was rewarded when he secured a commission to illustrate fashions in a special Australian supplement for Vogue Magazine, published in January 1956. He won a twelve-month contract with British Vogue and left for London in February 1957, leaving Talbot to manage the business. Newton left the magazine before the end of his contract and went to Paris, where he worked for French and German magazines. He returned to Melbourne in March 1959 to a contract for Australian Vogue.

Newton and wife finally settled in Paris in 1961 and the work continued as a fashion photographer. His images appeared in magazines including the French edition of Vogue and Harper's Bazaar. He established a particular style marked by erotic, stylized scenes, often with sado-masochistic and fetishistic subtexts. A heart attack in 1970 reduced Newton's output, nevertheless his wife's encouragement led to his profile continuing to expand, especially with a big success, the 1980 studio-bound stark infinity of the "Big Nudes" series. His "Naked and Dressed" portfolio followed and in 1992 "Domestic Nudes" which marked the pinnacle of his erotic-urban style, these series all underpinned with the prowess of his technical skills. Newton also worked in portraiture and more fantastical studies. Newton shot a number of pictorials for Playboy, including pictorials of Nastassja Kinski and Kristine DeBell. Original prints of the photographs from his August 1976 pictorial of DeBell, "200 Motels, or How I Spent My Summer Vacation" were sold at auctions of Playboy archives by Bonhams in 2002 for $21,075 and by Christie's in December 2003 for $26,290. In his later life, Newton lived in both Monte Carlo and Los Angeles, California. He was in an accident on 23 January 2004, when his car sped out of control and hit a wall in Sunset Boulevard, coming out from the Chateau Marmont, which had for several years served as his residence in Southern California. He died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. His ashes are buried three plots down from the grave of Marlene Dietrich at the Städtischer Friedhof III in Berlin.

Price: $4,500.00

See all items in Photography
See all items by