Until the 26th of August
Art Centre College of Design
1700 Lida Street
Pasadena, CA 91103
Tuesday through Sunday:
12 noon to 5 pm
12 noon to 9 pm
The long-time assistants of the iconic fashion photographer Helmut Newton, photographers Mark Arbeit, George Holz and Just Loomis, have paid a tribute to their mentor in this exhibition that showcases the arrival back at the site of their first meeting between the Boys and Helmut. This expectional exhibition, which is being displayed at the Art Centre’s Alyce de Roulet Williamson Gallery features a retrospective of about 150 prints from each assistants individual work showing the profound influence Newton had on them all. As well as several items of memorabilia, consisting of snapshots, handwritten notes, journal pages, contact sheets, Polaroids documenting the trio’s years working with Newton. In the sensual, striking fashion editorial and portraiture by Arbeit, Loomis and Holz, the viewer is able to detect the direct line of influence from Newton to his apprentices. In June 2010, Three Boys from Pasadena premiered at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin. The Three Boys from Pasadena: A Tribute to Helmut Newton (curated by June Newton) is an unusual memorial to one of the 20th century’s most iconic photographers, revealing a personal and professional relationships among the photographer and his assistants.
In 1979, the three young inspiring photographers decided to boldly approach Newton after getting a tip that he would be dropping into a Pasadena boutique. While still an Art Centre student, Arbeit was shooting fashion pictures for the Rodeo Drive boutique Lina Lee, when he heard that Newton was going to stop by the Beverly Hills store. Arbeit and Holz waited for him all day, hoping to meet the ‘King of Kink’. When the connection was made, Newton was intrigued enough by the students to invite them (and Loomis) to his hotel to show him their work. When they arrived, Newton was friendly but blunt about their work. “It taught me it takes time. You have to work and work at a style before it comes out. He taught me, don’t lock yourself into something,” Arbeit adds. “He saw something pure and innocent in young photographers, but he also saw a dedication and seriousness about us, and he let us into his world.” Since that day they have been his assistants for life. It was the beginning of a professional and personal relationship that would last up until Newton’s death in 2004.
Newton first became recognised as a fashion photographer, by shooting long-legged models in high heels in erotic layouts for publications such as Vogue and later added sadomasochistic nudes and celebrities in provocative poses to his portfolio. “It was his point of view and how he carried himself,” says Holz, now a well-established magazine photographer. “You learned by osmosis. There is a little of that Helmut DNA ingrained in all of us. For him, there was no difference between his commercial work and his fine art work. He approached every photograph the same.”
Their connection with Newton lasted 25 years, beginning as students and assistants, but grew into a lasting mentorship long after each had found success in photography. “He was shooting [pictures] up till the very end,” Holz says. “He was excited like a little kid.”
Newton was then a highly regarded and inventive editorial photographer but was only beginning to reach beyond the fashion world with his very personal vision which was revealed in his first books, in 1976’s entitled “White Women” and 1978’s “Sleepless Nights.” “It was prime-time Helmut,” Holz says. Newton’s new pictures revealed a world rooted in memories of growing up in Weimar, Germany, with big, powerful women in stiletto heels and little else, or dressed in elegant European suits and vivid colors, boots, furs and generally revealing couture. “They were so completely different,” says Loomis about the pictures. “People call it decadence, but there is such a sense of style about that period, a definite energy in women and in culture. He was able to translate that to the page in a very striking way.”
“Helmut loved women. You can see it in his pictures. And the girls loved him. He could get anyone to do anything, no matter how famous they were. They wanted to be shot by Helmut.” It was Newton who urged the trio to move to Milan, where a young photographer might find a magazine art director more willing to give him a chance. All three did end up there, and struggled. “We lived out of each other’s pockets,” Loomis recalls.
After Newton’s death, June Newton (his wife and photographer who went by the name Alice Springs) kept in touch with his three Art Centre assistants, with frequent reunions during her winter stays at the Marmont. In recent years, Holz has been based in upstate New York, Arbeit in Hawaii and Loomis in Malibu. All three are represented locally by the Fahey/Klein Gallery on La Brea Avenue.