Photographer Helmut Newton has just released a collection of influential, intriguing and controversial photography in a book whose size is setting records. At 70 cm high and 50 cm wide and weighing around 30-kg, the publishers and photographer were at a loss as to what to call it. Sumo after the Japanese wrestlers seemed the most appropriate, so Helmut Newton's Sumo Book was named.
There is no need, however, for the proud owner of one of these limited edition volumes to struggle with the size and weight... each comes with its own stand designed specially by Philippe Starck for the book. (Leading to review headlines describing it as 'the only book with its own coffee table'.)
There are only 10,000 copies to be released worldwide, each signed by Newton. Production is highly complicated and each individual book is bound by hand.
New Zealand bookstore chain Dymocks are having a special preview launch of Sumo simultaneously in three stores... Because the book is so valuable ($3800.00 - believed to be a record for a contemporary publication), each book will be guarded by a security person. Forget any ideas of a quick flick through... staff wearing gloves will turn pages on request. At the Atrium launch, models in Natalija Kucija fashions will escort the book.
The publishers, art house Taschen, claim several superlatives for the book... the biggest contemporary book and the most expensive are just two. However, the drive was not to win world records, but to provide the right forum for Newton's startling work.Benedikt Taschen says the aim was to cover every aspect of Newton's outstanding career in photography, from the stunning fashion photographs, which pointed the way for generations of photographers, to his most recent celebrity portraits.
Magazine editor Tina Brown comments in American Photo that Newton provides her with more visual excitement per page than any other photographer she's worked with:
'The power, depth and provocativeness of his images make any magazine that they appear in memorable and hot. He's funny, sexy, dangerous and brilliant.'
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