Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards. Helmut Newton.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.
Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.

Newton’s White Box : 20 Postcards.

Paris: Xavier Moreau, [ca. 1975]. 8vo (8” x 5”), white paperboard box with slip-off lid. 20 color and black & white postcards (6” x 4.25”), loosely inserted in an internal tray; titles in French printed on verso of postcards. Inscribed on front panel of lid in black ink: “For Polly and Henry with my love. Helmet, New York. 14. 3. 1977. P. S. A set of real French postcards.”.

A presentation copy of an early and exceedingly rare Newton publication, comprising twenty erotic postcards reproducing his photographs, inscribed to the noted fashion editor and stylist Polly Allen Mellen and her husband.

First and only edition. This is one of only two examples that we have been able to trace. The other copy, which appeared in the trade in 2014, was inscribed by Newton in 1976 to Rudi Gernreich (1922–1985)—an innovator of twentieth century fashion, best known for his scandalous “monokini,” or topless female swimsuit. Although identified as “Series No. 1” on the lid, no other series of Newton’s postcards is known.

Born in Berlin, Helmut Newton (1920–2004) was known for his radical, edgy and provocative photography. As documented in these photos, Newton preferred working outside the studio and often shot his models outdoors and in elegant mansions, villas and hotels. Newton pushed the boundaries of the fashion industry of his day with his often-sinister, erotically-charged imagery—leading some feminists to criticize his work. He began working for Vogue in the ‘50s, and soon—like Richard Avedon and Norman Parkinson—became one of the magazine’s foremost photographers. While 1976 saw Newton’s first recorded publication, White Women, the present postcards are variously dated from 1971 to 1975, evidently indicating publication prior to White Women. Newton’s first group exhibition—at Emily Lowe Gallery, New York City—and his first solo show, at Galerie Nikon in Paris were both held in 1975. It is possible that White Box was published in connection with the latter. In any case, it is not listed among the photographer’s known publications on the website of the Helmut Newton Foundation.

Polly Allen Mellen (1924–) is a fashion editor and stylist who worked for Harper's Bazaar (under Diana Vreeland) and later Vogue (under Vreeland and Grace Mirabella)—her career spanning over sixty years. She served as a nurse's aide during WWII and moved to New York in 1949. At Harper’s Bazaar she met her future longtime collaborator Richard Avedon, who initially found Mellen “too noisy.” In time, however, Avedon would describe her as “the most creative sittings editor I ever worked with.” Nicolas Ghesquiere has suggested that Mellen’s work at Harper’s and later Vogue came to “define a new, more modern ethos about clothes and how women wore them. With an almost playful daring, [the ethos] brimmed with a kind of strong, smart, unabashedly celebratory feminine independence—as well as an artful element of provocation and extravagance—that Mellen herself embodied and drew upon in her collaborations” (Ghesquiere, Polly Mellen). Over the course of her career, Mellen worked with such photographers as Newton, Avedon, Arthur Elgort, Irving Penn, Steven Meisel, and Mario Testino. Polly and Henry Wigglesworth Mellen (1920–2014) married in 1965.

No copies recorded in OCLC. Apart from the copy offered by Peter Harrington in 2014 we find no other copies recorded, no sales records, nor any other mention of White Box.

REFERENCES: Ghesquiere, Nicolas, Polly Mellen (2010) at interviewmagazine[dot]com; Warren, Lynne. Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography, Vol. 3 (New York: Routledge, 2006), p. 1159; Helmut Newton at icp[dot]org; Polly Mellen styled the controversial Bathhouse Series & Nastassja Kinski (2014) at agnautacouture[dot]com

Item #6004

Price: $7,500.00

See all items in Rare Books
See all items by