New York Photo Review
NYPR Archives - 2010

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Three Boys from Pasadena

Three Boys from Pasadena: A Tribute to Helmut Newton
Mark Arbeit, “Fiddlehead Fern, April 25, 2004”

Helmut Newton had a profound influence on fashion photography. In fact, he just about reinvented the genre in the 1970s and 80s by creating edgy, erotic, stylized scenes, sometimes with sadomasochistic overtones. But if you’re expecting to see anything like that in the exhibition entitled “Three Boys from Pasadena: A Tribute to Helmut Newton,” you will be both disappointed and frustrated. The three “boys”–– Mark Arbeit, George Holz and Just Loomis––all worked for Newton in the late 1970s as his assistants while attending the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. More than a boss, Newton became their mentor. This modest exhibition, based on the book with the same title, includes five images from each of the three, as well as a series of 56 x 21 inch memorabilia collages containing snapshots and postcards.

The three “boys” have all gone on to successful careers as commercial photographers. In fact, in the book, Newton’s wife, June, says, "You three were the only ones who became photographers in your own right. You three complement one another and you all had a unique relationship with Helmut and you’ve become his offspring–you have your own voices. It was a special time in your lives - all four of you and I was the witness. It will never come again."

Mark Arbeit has his own perspective. “Newton taught me never to be afraid to shoot in low light,” he says, “it could create something unexpected.” In that regard, Arbeit succeeds here. Among his five images on display, I liked “Fiddlehead Fern” which shows a nude bent over while sitting in a stylized wooden chair.

 by unidentified photographer.
George Holz, “Claire with Moosewings, New York, 1986”

Of the three photographers, George Holz is probably the closest in style to Newton. The best example is the somewhat surreal nude entitled “Claire with Moosewings” where the model seems to have moose antlers wrapped around her waist. “Nicole with Snapping Turtle Shell” is another.

Ironically photographer Just Loomis may have paid the ultimate tribute to Newton by not showing any nudes in “Three Boys,” but rather some solid portraits and documentary images. By age 75, Newton himself, had finished shooting nude pictures of women—he’d done enough of them. He died in 2004 at age 84.

As gallery shows go, “Three Boys from Pasadena” is easy to look at, but not a must see.

Three Boys from Pasadena: A Tribute to Helmut Newton

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