A few months ago I wrote this article discussing the relationship between art and sex, using the infamous photographer Helmut Newton as a case-in point. The BAPs team pondered long and hard over what would be an appropriate accompanying visual, and we decided that nudity was, in this case, extremely apt. Therefore we took our photographer Chris Phillips (who specializes in his own artistic erotic photography) to the Helmut Newton Foundation, along with a willing female model, to pose our own striking nudes. Once inside we managed to successfully take some beautiful images of the model posing next to the art works, the results of which can be seen in the original article here. Our aim at the time was to point out the hypocrisy between art institutions permitting nudity on the walls and forbidding them in the space. Little did we know how much hypocrisy we would soon unearth within the Helmut Newton Foundation.
Fast Forward To Last Week
Three months on, the Helmut Newton Foundation are riled. After finally cottoning on to our artistic act a number of emails have been exchanged, threatening us with court action if we failed to remove not only the images taken inside the foundation but also the accompanying text on the grounds that their copyright of Newton’s work is being breached.
Of course, we’re not going to.
We’re not going to for a number of reasons, the first being that censorship is not something we advocate. The Fourth Estate exists for a reason, and it is not to act as a mouth piece for any institution or government but to deliver accurate information to the public. The fact that the Helmut Newton Foundation is also asking for the removal of the text itself is ludicrous––we are entitled to write about whatever we like, such is the beauty of a democratic society.
Appropriation Art, anyone?
Whilst we’re on the topic of creative freedom, has the HNF never heard of creative license? Or a whole chunk of art history called Appropriation Art? I know it’s only been around about half a century or so but still, keep up guys. Our photographer did not merely take a photograph of the image for us to publish it but re-contextualised the whole image with the placement of a contemporary nude before the work. The fact that this has caused offense is rather ironic. In the end, our initial hypothesis was proven correct: why are the nudes only allowed on the walls but not in real life?
Whilst we at BAPs can see why copyright is sometimes a necessary evil, in this case it is rather absurd that the HNF is upset at the use of one of their images which many people have already seen easily through the internet (hello Google). In the open source media world which exists today clinging to copyright laws is outdated and points more towards the foundation’s aim of making money as opposed to celebrating the man they are meant to be commemorating. If such care was given to the famous artist’s memory, then why, the last time we checked, is his grave in such an overgrown and untended state? The lockdown of his images must take up a lot of time.
Article by Marie J Burrows