Controversial. Sexual. Timeless. Rue Aubriot is known to many as ‘Le Smoking’ but by whichever name you came across this fantastic image, it is instantly recognisable as the work of Helmut Newton and a piece well worth showcasing.
Newton’s art redefined the portrayal of women and to some, Rue Aubriot is the culmination of this: the light, the androgynous model and of course, the Yves Saint Laurent jacket all coming together to create a new strong femininity and a powerful sexuality that was symptomatic of its time and yet still relevant today.
His portrayal of women is something Newton has been both praised and criticised for. Much of his work has an overtly sexual focus and there have been times when it has been accused of overstepping the boundary between art and pornographic voyeurism.
Whichever side of the line you find yourself on, however, there is no denying that Newton’s work is beautiful and shocking. In analysing his pieces, it’s also worth remembering that Newton himself always stated with confidence that his work was about celebrating his love and admiration of women more than anything else – although it’s true that he also aspired to be seen as an agent provocateur.
A Statement Piece
In working with the YSL jacket, a piece which was first shown by the designer in 1966 as part of the Autumn/Winter ‘Pop Art’ collection, Helmut Newton found the perfect complement to his work, this stylised masculine item of fashion, reimagined on a female form.
The photograph itself was taken in the 1970s as part of a fashion shoot for French Vogue. Newton worked with a beautiful model and shot his work in a softly lit alley in Paris. There were other equally well-known images in the series, including one of a second female model, naked other than her simple black heels and entwined in a casual embrace with the woman in the Le Smoking jacket.
Newton used the shots as part of his publicity material with French fashion houses and magazines of the time. Many of the images he distributed in this way were printed by himself and a rare number have survived the decades.
Vintage Limited Edition Prints
ONGallery is among the handful of global outlets to have secured some of these world renowned prints. A limited number of pre-1985 printed photographs, authenticated by the artist’s former US agent Norman Solomon, can be viewed and purchased directly through the site.
The piece is one of the team’s favourites and is something we’re proud to hang in our office as a celebration of the strength of style and simplicity in art. Find out more about how you can own a limited edition vintage print of Rue Aubriot here.