Chronorama at the Helmut Newton Foundation

Helmut Newton - Patti Hansen in Yves Saint Laurent, Promenade des Anglais, Nice 1976 © Helmut Newton Foundation, courtesy Condé Nast

Following its highly successful premiere at Palazzo Grassi in Venice, the collaborative project CHRONORAMA – Photographic Treasures of the 20th Century will be shown at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin starting 15 February 2024.

CHRONORAMA marks the latest partnership between the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin and leading international collections. In 2018, it hosted Between Art & Fashion, with 223 works by 85 photographers from the collection of Carla Sozzani, former editor-in-chief of the Italian Elle and Vogue.

Cecil Beaton – Actress Marlene Dietrich, Vanity Fair, 1932 © Condé Nast

Now, the foundation unveils François Pinault’s recently acquired collection of exceptional photographs, including portraits, fashion, still lifes, architecture, photojournalism, as well as early illustrations from the legendary Condé Nast Archive. Showcasing nearly 250 works created between 1910 and the late-1970s for Condé Nast’s style- defining magazines, this chronological presentation traces the evolution of the fashion industry against the backdrop of radical changes in western culture, spanning subjects from the sophisticated to the sublime. Naturally, Helmut Newton’s works are also part of this remarkable collection, as he contributed extensively to Condé Nast magazines like Vogue and Vanity Fair from the 1950s onward. Most of Newton’s fashion photographs featured in this show have not been previously exhibited in Berlin.

Furthermore, the exhibition brings together an impressive array of Helmut Newton’s contemporaries and predecessors, including trailblazing photographers like Diane Arbus, Cecil Beaton, David Bailey, John Deakin, Robert Frank, Evelyn Hofer, Horst P. Horst, George Hoyningen-Huene, Peter Hujar, William Klein, Lisette Model, Ugo Mulas, Irving Penn, Bert Stern, Deborah Turbeville, and Chris von Wangenheim.


CHRONORAMA comprises a breathtaking compendium of valuable vintage prints, many of which served as the basis for high-quality images in the magazines of their time. These photographic treasures transport today’s viewers through the history of the 20th century, offering insight into fashion staging and the evolving interpretation of fashion trends as well as culture, lifestyle, and world events. Organized by decade, the immersive tour begins in 1910, one year after Condé Nast acquired Vogue magazine, transforming it into a leading platform for fashion, style, and beauty.

George Wolfe Plank – Masked model wearing a draped gown in bird-patterned fabric with
ribbon slit hem, Vanity Fair, 1917 © Condé Nast

In those early days, photographs were still relatively rare, so abundant drawings by renowned fashion illustrators of the era also adorn the exhibition walls. Unlike the photography back then, the illustrations gracing the magazine’s pages and covers were in color – an important selling point for Condé Nast and its magazines. The dynamics between the two mediums underwent a seismic shift as photography rose to prominence in the ensuing decade in Vogue and Vanity Fair and other leading publications. Black-and-white photography long remained the standard, so the earliest colour image on display dates to 1952, shot by Irving Penn, who also created over 100 Vogue covers.

Besides fashion, CHRONORAMA places people at the heart of its captivating chronicle, with numerous portraits of luminaries from the realms of music, art, sports, and politics – a veritable Who’s Who of the 20th century’s most celebrated figures. The exhibition also surveys lavish interiors, beauty salons, artistic still lifes, photographic experiments, and examples of journalistic photography, capturing war-torn London and the newly erected Empire State Building in New York. All these facets were published concurrently across Condé Nast’s magazines – and now this extraordinary treasure trove of images awaits discovery in Berlin.

Jack Robinson – Actor Joe Dallesandro, Vogue, 1970 © Condé Nast

The exhibition, produced and presented at Pinault Collection – Palazzo Grassi (Venice) in 2023, is now shown at the Helmut Newton Foundation under the joint curatorship of Matthieu Humery, Advisor for photography at Pinault Collection and Matthias Harder, Director of the foundation.

The exhibition is accompanied by the publication CHRONORAMA: Photographic Treasures of the 20th Century, Abrams & Chronicle Books, New York, 2023, 432 pages, Price: 38 €, ISBN 978-1-4197-6662-6

See also: All the Fun of the Fair at Sworders

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