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June 06, 2012

“Three Boys from Pasadena” Honors Helmut Newton in L.A.

By Ingrid Skjong | Art

“Three Boys from Pasadena” Honors Helmut Newton in L.A.
Cameron Diaz, 1995, by George Holz

Helmut Newton, renowned for his seductive, sometimes scandalous photography, harbored a fondness for Los Angeles, working there often throughout his career. This summer, L.A. returns the favor. Perry Rubenstein Gallery gave Newton, who died in L.A. in 2004, a nod when it opened the exhibit “Sex and Landscapes,” a collection of 40 of his photographs (several of which reflected Newton and his wife June’s affinity for the Chateau Marmont), on June 1. Next up is “Three Boys from Pasadena: A Tribute to Helmut Newton,” opening June 14 at the Williamson Gallery at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena. The exhibit approaches the photographer from a rarely seen perspective: that of his three protégés, Mark Arbeit, George Holz and Just Loomis.

Curated by June, the exhibit—featuring works by the three men, as well as handwritten notes, contact sheets and other memorabilia—illustrates how Newton influenced a generation. The story began in 1979, when the three men, students at the Art Center College of Design, met Newton for the first time and, subsequently, became his assistants during a particularly fascinating time in fashion photography. (Arbeit and Holz waited hours one day at designer Lina Lee’s boutique on Rodeo Drive to see him.) The result was a tight relationship that lasted till the end of his life. “Helmut was a great mentor,” says Loomis. “Mentorship today is not really a very popular idea—now, everyone wants everything right away. We all believed in working for a master.”

They did just that, becoming highly accomplished fashion and portrait photographers. The exhibit picks up where 2010’s “Three Boys from Pasadena,” which debuted at the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin, left off—and the result is a treat. “The show has ‘come home’ to L.A. because this is where we went to school, met Helmut and started our careers as photographers,” says Holz. “We all, as well as Helmut, shared a love of its light, people, decadence and landscapes.” June 14–August 26; 1700 Lida St.; 626-396-2200; artcenter.edu.