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The Story Behind Helmut Newton's Rue Aubriot Photograph

The Story Behind Helmut Newton's Rue Aubriot Photograph

Helmut Newton's "Rue Aubriot" History

Helmut Newton's "Rue Aubriot" photograph is a striking image from his ‘Private Property Collection’ that showcases the photographer's signature style and sensibility. Taken in Paris in 1975, the photograph features the actress Vibeke Knudsen standing alone in a lamp-lit Parisian street, wearing Yves Saint Laurent's iconic Lé Smoking dinner jacket, pin-striped wide-leg formal trousers, and a white tie. The image became instantly recognizable with the powerful feminist movement and signature female ‘tuxedo’ look. The image is both energetically erotic and powerful, and it has become one of Newton's most iconic works.

Helmut Newton was born in 1920 in Berlin, Germany. He began his career as a fashion photographer in the 1930s, working for various magazines and advertising agencies. However, he was forced to flee Germany in the 1930s due to his Jewish heritage and the rise of the Nazi Party. He eventually settled in Singapore, where he worked as a portrait and commercial photographer until 1941, when he was interned by the Japanese.

Rue Aubriot Photo Shoot
"Rue Aubriot, Paris 1975" featuring three unique versions

 

After the war, Newton moved to Australia, where he worked as a photographer for Australian Vogue. It was during this time that he began to develop his signature style, which was characterized by bold, dramatic compositions and a focus on the female form. He also began to experiment with erotic and fetishistic themes, which would become a recurrent feature of his work.

In the 1960s, Newton moved to Paris, where he became one of the most sought-after photographers in the fashion industry. He worked for a variety of magazines and fashion houses, including Vogue, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, and Chanel. He was known for his ability to capture the glamour and sensuality of the fashion world, and his photographs were often seen as provocative and controversial.  Read more about Helmut Newton here.

The "Rue Aubriot" photograph was taken in 1975 in the shadows of night in front of Newton’s home, 51 Rue Aubriot, at the time. The photograph was styled with a deliberately androgynous outfit to immortalize the Yves Saint Laurent aesthetic that took over the 1970s. Newton loved to shoot outdoors, and this night-time scene, using only the street lighting available, was directly drawn from the nocturnal photographs of his hero, Brassai. Newton's own house can be seen in the background of the photograph and the nighttime nature of the shoot is attributed to the limited supply of clothing articles, requiring them to be present at the Yves Saint Laurent boutique during the daytime hours of operation.

Recalling the shoot in an interview with New York Magazine in 1988 Newton said: 'Vibeke was a girl I often worked with in those days. The idea was a man-woman standing in the street at night - the street, in fact, in Paris' Marais district, where I lived for 14 years.’  Vibeke can be seen in many of Newton’s photo shoots throughout the years and maintained his habit of preferring a select few models to work with.

Helmut Newton Rue Aubriot Posters

Rue Aubriot Exhibition Posters

 

Throughout his career, Helmut Newton's photographs were often seen as controversial and provocative. His work challenged traditional notions of beauty and femininity, and he was not afraid to push boundaries and explore taboo subjects. However, his work was also celebrated for its artistry and skill, and he is widely considered to be one of the most important photographers of the 20th century.

The "Rue Aubriot" photograph is one of Newton's most iconic works, and it continues to be widely exhibited and admired today. It demonstrates Newton's ability to create powerful, striking images that are both erotic and thought-provoking. It is a lasting legacy of one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century, who pushed boundaries and created images that are still captivating today.

View Rue Aubriot Images

Visiting Rue Aubriot

Rue Aubriot continues to be a popular destination for visitors to Paris, both for its historical significance and its association with Helmut Newton. Today, the street is a vibrant part of the Marais neighborhood, with plenty of small independent boutiques, cafes, and restaurants to explore. Visitors can also take a stroll down the street and admire the well-preserved 17th-century architecture and charming, narrow streets.

Modern Day Doorways On Paris' Rue Aubriot

Elegantly carved doorways on today's Rue Aubriot

 

If you're interested in visiting the house where Helmut Newton lived and took the photograph, you can find it at number 51 Rue Aubriot. The building is a private residence, so it's not open to the public but you can still admire it from the outside. The Marais neighborhood is also home to many other historical and cultural attractions such as the Place des Vosges, the Jewish quarter, the Picasso Museum, and the Centre Pompidou.

In conclusion, Rue Aubriot is a must-see destination for photography and art lovers, history buffs, and anyone interested in experiencing the charming and picturesque streets of Paris. The street is a vibrant part of the Marais neighborhood, with plenty of small independent boutiques, cafes, and restaurants to explore. Visitors can also take a stroll down the street and admire the well-preserved 17th-century architecture and charming, narrow streets. If you're interested in visiting the house where Helmut Newton lived and took the photograph, you can find it at number 51 Rue Aubriot, and the neighborhood itself is full of other historical and cultural attractions, making it a great place to explore.

Rue Aubriot Google Maps

Rue Aubriot Google Maps. 

Next article Helmut Newton 100 Exhibition at Kraftwerk Berlin 2020

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