'He redefined the nude' - Bailey tribute to Newton

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The Independent Online

The world yesterday remembered Helmut Newton - whose iconic nude images made him one of the most celebrated and influential photographers - after he died in a car crash in California.

The 83-year-old is thought to have had a heart attack while driving his Cadillac in the driveway of the Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner called him "a giant", while his friend David Bailey said: "He redefined the nude."

German-born Newton was famed for erotically charged monochrome images of well-toned, beautiful women, whom he often depicted in little more than killer heels.

His stylised work drew criticism for an inherent misogyny. One picture famously featured a nude model with her neck in a surgical collar and one leg in a cast.

But Bailey defended Newton's style: "He had a great love of women. He was very pro-women and the figures he portrayed always had enormous strength. Those who complained were just being politically correct.

"His impact has been enormous. He was a giant of photography and he redefined the nude. Helmut came along and did something totally original. His lasting legacy will be that he was seen as a great photographer, but I suppose he will be remembered for his nudes in the same way that I am still lumbered with the '60s."

Newton's widely admired and hugely influential fashion work appeared in magazines such as Vogue and Elle, and his subjects have included Jerry Hall, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell and Paloma Picasso.

As his agent, Tiggy Maconochie, said last night: "His fashion photographs were an inimitable mix of eroticism, elegance and luxurious decadence. He will continue to influence photography well into the 21st century."

Newton, who was Jewish, fled Nazi persecution in Germany in December 1938, heading to Singapore before eventually settling in Australia and opening a small studio. His breakthrough came after resettling in Paris and shooting for French Vogue in 1961.

Newton - who changed his surname from Neustädter - was latterly based in Monte Carlo, spending his winter months in LA.

Among his most striking images were his Big Nudes, 2m-tall black-and-white shots of powerful naked women, casting shadows against a pale backdrop.

London dealer Tim Jeffries, who had known him for nearly 20 years, said: "You couldn't write the history of photography and ignore Helmut Newton. His contribution has been enormous. He revolutionised fashion photography with the way he used women and portrayed them."

He added: "Being with Helmut was a joy, he had a great sense of humour and a great sense of fun."

And Hefner, whose publication had frequently featured Newton's work, said: "He was a major talent that pushed the boundaries of photography and influenced many, many other photographers in following generations."