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Felicia FeasterLong before Madonna and heavy metal videos discovered S&M, the defiantly stylish, decidedly perverse German photographer was depicting his large-boned, steely, Amazonian models looming over men and women with schoolmistress-y attitude. Baring their breasts with a defiant peal of laughter, trussed up in goggles and leg braces, Newton's women prowled the subterranean psyche where power relationships flip-flop and gender roles blur. And like Hitchcock, he extracted hours of delight from crafting chic women into architectural objects as impervious as a skyscraper to wind.
The recently published survey of fashion fetishism, Helmut Newton Pages From the Glossies, is a seductive look at his career from 1963, examining the collision of sex and salesmanship in the pages of Vogue, Allure, Queen and Paris Match.
The images in Glossies confirm that all of Newton's critics may have been right: Violence underlies his images. But not "violence against women." In Newtonville, it's the women who are the bruisers: the sadistic wenches grinding a heel into some poor sap's back, fondling their breasts with a cruel "look but don't touch" expression.