Helmut Newton (1920-2004)

updated 02/09/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/09/2004 AT 01:00 AM EST

Where, exactly, was this world that Helmut Newton documented? Where did women twirl spaghetti or sweep chimney embers without seeming to notice or care that they were nude? Mainly in the imagination of a German-Jewish émigré whose coolly erotic tableaux helped redefine fashion photography. To pose for him, says Amber Valletta, "you had to be this very powerful, in-your-skin sexual woman."

Raised in Berlin as Helmut Neustadter, Newton—who died on Jan. 23 in a car crash in L.A.—was labeled misogynistic by some who scorned his kinky aesthetic. Instead, says Vogue editor Anna Wintour, he was a provocateur with "a naughty-boy sense of humor." He kept it until he died at 83 (leaving June, his wife of 55 years). His final Vogue shoot featured a woman in a gold swimsuit, lying on a bed of nails.

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