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Helmut Newton (source: Sotheby’s)

October 31 is Helmut Newton’s birthday.

The one word that comes up time and time again when people discuss the work of Helmut Newton is “erotic.” I guess it’s sort of a cliché — like when I teasingly use the word “slutty” to describe Scorpio natives. Nevertheless, clichés are my language. I put people and things into categories and sort them out in a manner that makes sense to me. If “erotic” things end up in the box with all the other Scorpionic things, it’s because of the sign’s relationship with sex, death, birth and many of the other inevitabilities of life.

Helmut Newton was an interesting guy. Like Robert Mapplethorpe, his fellow Scorpio, he worked mostly in black and white, producing technically brilliant photographs that psychologists could pore over for hours. The fashion world loved him because he knew how to make women look gorgeous. The photography world loved him because he was a master of his craft. The art world still loves him because his work spoke of power, desire and obsession, through a sharply-focused lens that often belied the surrealistic qualities of many of his images.

Like many fashion designers, plenty of fashion photographers don’t have an accurate birth date online. For that reason, I haven’t thoroughly explored the relationship between those individuals and their zodiac signs. However, my access to that sort of information has improved since I wrote my last book. Strangely, all the photographers I want to talk about are Scorpios. Stay tuned!

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