The Helmut Newton Foundation, in Berlin, was set up by the late, great photographer himself, as a way to not only preserve his own life’s work in a meaningful context of his professional evolution, but also to showcase some of the other important and influential photographers of our time –including his wife, June Newton. Since 2003 the Foundation has cemented itself as a vital and authentic part of Berlin’s cultural landscape, comprising of a permanent collection onsite and also staging regular temporary exhibitions, both in Berlin and internationally. One such exhibition, which opened in Berlin in early October 2020, is titled America 70s/80s, and includes the contribution of the legendary Joel Meyerowitz, one of our inspiring Masters of Photography.

If you’re looking to take your own work to the next level, our online courses with Joel Meyerowitz provide the unique opportunity to get portrait photography tips right from the Master himself.

The Helmut Newton Foundation

It was always Helmut Newton’s aim to have the Foundation he created just prior to his death as a space that was, in his own words, “a living institution”. It contains a vast collection of his work, which is shown on a rotating basis. Set over two floors within the walls of a painstakingly restored building that dates back to 1909, the imposing substance and architecture of the building offer a fitting space in which to house the work of this iconic photographer and so many of his contemporaries.

America 70s/80s on Display in Berlin

Along with Helmut Newton and Joel Meyerowitz, the Foundation’s latest exhibition comprises works by Evelyn Hofer and Sheila Metzner from the 70s and 80s. During this time Hofer, Metzner and Newton were all renowned for their avant garde work in fashion, shooting for the likes of Vogue and Vanity Fair, while Meyerowitz was highly regarded for his evocative street images and had started experimenting with large-format portraiture. The four photographers were more than creative contemporaries, they were friends, and the collection represents an important cultural discussion and depiction of the global ambience of the times, when the more glossy, opulent and over the top, the better.The 70s and 80s were a heady time in America, with sexual liberation at its peak and a kind of carefree, glamorous and almost hedonistic mood sweeping the country. This was reflected in the freedom of expression these four artists were able to achieve in their professional lives and their often highly aspirational lifestyle images. The curators of the exhibition have created what is, in essence, an antithesis of the current time, making a conscious decision to eschew catastrophe and negativity and only display images that portray the beauty, positivity and “coolness” of those two decades. While all four photographers were ‘of their time’, their work is distinct, non-derivative, yet entirely complementary to each other within the broader context and subject of the exhibition.

Meyerowitz and the Provincetown Portraits

In the late 70s and early 80s, Joel Meyerowitz left his home in New York to spend the summers in Provincetown, a charming old fishing village in Massachusetts popular with holidaymakers. His arresting, free-spirited images of those times, displayed in all their bold colour and magnificent large format, form the centrepiece of the exhibition. The detail in these photographs is extraordinary and the candid, unaffected images of men, women, couples and singles, taken on his own time and without financial agenda, form a captivating and accurate study of the iconic American West Coast lifestyle. They offer a nostalgic window into a couple of decades that, while not without their social and economic problems, were somehow infinitely more carefree.

The Meyerowitz Provincetown Portraits (including a striking portrait of Sheila Metzner) provide a starting point around which the Foundation curated this latest exhibition. Along with the work of Newton, Hofer and Metzner, the collection successfully conveys the freedom, permissiveness and self-expression that defined some parts of America culturally in the 1970s/80s.

Meyerowitz published a selection of the portraits in his 2019 book ‘Provincetown‘, many of which have never been seen before.

The Details

If you can make it to Berlin, America 70s/80s is running all the way through from October 2020 until May 2021. For those lucky enough to be able to visit the Foundation in person, be aware that you’ll need to book a time slot ticket and that all social distancing and hygiene rules apply for the duration of your time in the building.

Opening hours:

Tues/Wed/Fri/Sat/Sun – 11am –7pm

Thurs – 11am –8pm

Monday – Closed

Left: Darrell, Provincetown, 1983, by Joel Meyerowitz. Right: Caroline and Margaret, Provincetown, 1983, by Joel Meyerowitz

Get Portrait Photography Tips from a Master

For anyone looking to take their photography to the next level, the chance to learn skills, techniques and portrait photography tips from the Master himself, Joel Meyerowitz, is a once in a lifetime opportunity –and one that shouldn’t be missed. Our online courses are suitable for all levels and allow you to learn at your own pace, at a time that suits you. When you sign up you’ll enjoy lifetime access to the classes. Not only will you be able to learn the importance of composition and lighting, you’ll spend time with Joel Meyerowitz, share in his philosophy and see his most important portrait photography tips and tricks in action.

You’ll listen as he speaks about the importance of building a relationship with your subject and allowing yourself to nurture your own curiosity and develop a keen photographic eye –both on the street and in the studio. If you’re inspired by the work of Joel Meyerowitz in his Provincetown Portraits, where his subjects gaze back into his lens with startling curiosity and vulnerability, then learning some of his portrait photography tips will help you to establish your own creative identity and transform your own images.

Left: Stephen, Lynette and Jack, Provincetown, 1981, by Joel Meyerowitz. Right: Denise, Provincetown, 1985, by Joel Meyerowitz

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