WHOLESOMENESS RULES the roost in Sweden, where daily life more closely resembles an IKEA catalog than a Stieg Larsson thriller. Indeed, Sweden may be the one Western European country where Helmut Newton—the playful fashion photographer, provocative portraitist and self-styled pornographer—still has the ability to shock.
Newton—who died in 2004 at the age of 83—gets the star treatment this summer at Fotografiska, Stockholm’s three-year-old museum of contemporary photography, in a show curated by his widow, June Newton. The fabulous, familiar photos are all here—the full-frontal, stiletto-heeled Amazons; the lurid late-20th-century celebrities; and that mannish, willowy model, stalking the nighttime streets of Paris in her Yves Saint Laurent tuxedo pantsuit. You may have seen these before, but the superb, dimly lit installation can turn that stroll down memory lane into a walk on the wild side.
The show begins with twin portraits of Saint Laurent himself, in his febrile 1970s prime, and winds down with an hour-long documentary, "Helmut by June," Ms. Newton’s farewell to her husband, released not long after his death. Here we get to see Newton at work, glamorously shooting the likes of Cindy Crawford on the Riviera, and less glamorously, but no less typically, positioning an enormous nude model in a Hollywood kitchenette.
Until Sept. 29; fotografiska.eu
— J.S. Marcus
‘WHEN IT COMES to Picasso exhibitions, I frequently get asked, ‘Hasn’t it all been done before?’ " says Bernardo Laniado-Romero, director of Barcelona’s Museu Picasso. With its current exhibition—the first-ever show dedicated entirely to Picasso’s self-portraits—the museum proves there is still plenty to learn about the 20th century’s greatest painter.
Picasso’s ‘Self Portrait’ (1972)
Mounted with the support of the Picasso family and loans from galleries and collectors world-wide, "Yo Picasso" brings together 90 works spanning eight decades. Spread out across the first floor of the museum’s Finestres palace, the exhibition is arranged into nine sections—from "Barcelona, a factory of self-portraits" to "The artist and the model"—allowing the visitor to understand how Picasso’s portraits evolved in the wider context of his career.
"In Picasso’s work, the self-portrait was an important genre during his youth, and, in some part, his old age," says Eduard Vallès, who co-curated the show with Isabel Cendoya. "Apart from traditional self-portraits, Picasso also completed numerous self-representations, manifesting himself without showing his face but instead interposed identities, such as shadows or profiles."
Picasso’s ‘Self Portrait’ (1907)
From the early academic self-portraits, visitors move on to Picasso’s life in Paris, where "Yo" (1901), on loan from the Museum of Modern Art in New York, stands out as a highlight. In the section "Paving the way to the mask," works such as the pre-Cubist "Autorretrato" (1907), from Prague’s Národní Gallery, show the influence of African masks.
The show concludes with one of Picasso’s final self-portraits, from 1972, from a private collection in Tokyo. Just months before his death, the artist portrays himself with green skin and deformed features. Forty years later, the diverse depictions of his self are finally united in this fascinating exhibition.
Until Sept. 1; museupicasso.bcn.cat
—Isabel Eva Bohrer