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1970s Noir

Photographs by Helmut Newton and Larry Fink

The 1970s are often seen as a decade of glamorous overindulgence. The photographs of Helmut Newton (1920-2004) and Larry Fink (b. 1941) capture this world, but also expose its darker side. In his “15 Photographs” series, Newton, a German-Australian artist known for reinventing fashion photography, depicts celebrities such as Andy Warhol, British actress Charlotte Rampling, jewelry designer Paloma Picasso, and several models dressed in the latest styles. Despite their content, these photographs differ greatly from typical celebrity and fashion images. Newton subverts conventions by placing his subjects in unlikely settings and disconcerting or highly sexual poses. For example, in Charlotte Rampling, Arles, Newton captures his subject nude sitting on a Baroque table in an ornate room. She holds a drink and stares disarmingly at the camera. A sense of mystery, ambiguity, and drama common to all of Newton’s works pervades the scene.

For his series “Social Context”, Larry Fink photographs socialites at nightclubs and parties. He undermines the elegance of the setting by using a snapshot aesthetic that allows him to capture these socialites in less-than-glamorous moments. The artist explains, “I began to photograph society benefits in New York, fueled by curiosity and my rage against the privileged class-it’s abuses, voluptuous folds, and unfulfilled lives. I wanted to illuminate and lose myself in the dark spectrum of the glitter.” In False Men and Their Makers, Studio 54 Fink depicts distinctly unglamorous and awkward interactions at a club known for its glamour. The title also offers a critique on the overindulgence of the lifestyle. By depicting the perverse side of glamour or by commenting on it, these two photographers represent the seventies in a fresh, gritty light.

The Carleton College Art Collection consists of over 2500 objects, including over 800 photographic works. The Collection’s photography holdings have been substantially increased through annual gifts from Arthur D. Kowaloff ’68. These portfolios are examples of his continuing generosity to Carleton.

Description and image selection by Hallie Scott ’07

Model and Meccano Set, Paris

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<em>Charlotte Rampling, Arles</em>
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<em>Model and Meccano Set, Paris</em>
Model and Meccano Set, Paris
1977
silver gelatin print

Photo:

Helmut Newton

Keywords:

1997.616.4.JPG, Helmut, Newton, seventies

Categories:

Exhibitions