A week ago, the group exhibition Body Performance opened at the Helmut Newton Foundation with works by Vanessa Beecroft, Yang Fudong, Inez & Vinoodh, Jürgen Klauke, Robert Longo, Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton, Barbara Probst, Viviane Sassen, Cindy Sherman, Bernd Uhlig and Erwin Wurm. Works of art and audience, action and perception, the body and its surroundings… are always and inescapably implicated with each other; Body Performance aims to showcase this. But how much is performance embedded in their different practices? Some would say their work is about performance, others would debate what performance means and others wouldn’t call their work a performance at all – nonetheless, the human body is central.
Helmut Newton’s relatively unknown series Ballets de Monte Carlo is the starting point and core of this group exhibition. A bit reticent about it at first, he only agreed to do it because the request came from Princess Caroline of Monaco herself and he prided himself on being ‘one of the Princess’ people’. He went back to photograph the ballet year after year, and one can progressively see more and more of Newton in the images as time passes. He’d slip into the role of a theatre director and accompany the dancers on the streets of Monaco or at his own home to shoot nudes. With this series, he therefore reinterpreted a compositional idea that came to define his work, Naked and Dressed.