Distant Love
Join us for an evening of discussions around the topic of women and surrealism with national and international experts.

ATTENTION: Online ticket sales are now closed for this event. Tickets can still be bought at the entrance. 

The evening will begin with a roundtable discussion with Marijke Peyser (guest curator Boijmans van Beuningen), Catriona McAra (curator and author of 'Sadeian Women: Erotic Violence in the Surrealist Spectacle') and Matthias Harder (curator Helmut Newton Foundation). The discussion, moderated by Marcel Feil, will focus on the work of Newton, surrealism in general and the role of women within surrealism. Each speaker will use a selection of images to support and illustrate their claims during the conversation.

Following the roundtable discussion, the audience will have the opportunity to view an exclusive film collage (duration circa 30 min.) with examples of surrealism in film history, created by Patricia Pisters (professor of Media and Film studies, University of Amsterdam). In conversation after the screening, Patricia Pisters and Marcel Feil will further elaborate on the film fragments.


  • Patricia Pisters (professor of Media and Film studies at the University of Amsterdam)
  • Catriona McAra (curator and exhibition manager at Leeds University, writer of 'Sadeian Women: Erotic Violence in the Surrealist Spectacle.')
  • Marijke Peyser (guest curator Boijmans van Beuningen)
  • Matthias Harder (curator Helmut Newton Foundation)

Self Portrait with Wife and Models, Vogue Studio, Paris 1981 © Helmut Newton Estate / Maconochie Photography


Women are central in Helmut Newton´s highly versatile oeuvre. Newton adored women, especially powerful, sensual and seductive women. At the same time Newton´s women have something cold, distant and detached about them. They are sometimes more stylized objects than beings made of flesh and blood. It is this mis-en-scene in which Newton puts his subjects that often creates an ambiguous story.

In some series, Newton uses mannequins in erotic tableaux in which the difference between the living and lifeless protagonists can barely be perceived, while in others his subjects wear medical prostheses. The tension between eroticism, seduction, appropriation and aggression is subtle and complex. Dominance, power and violence also appear to play a role in his series about murder and 'crime scenes'.

The particular fascination for women, the imagination of women as a dominant force that is both attractive and frightening, and the complex psychological power play around gender relations are reminiscent of the obsessive way certain surrealist artists such as Hans Bellmer and Salvador Dalí approached the subject.

The Helmut Newton retrospective delves deeper into the way women are portrayed in surrealism, the place they occupy in the work of certain surrealist artists and the often complex meanings of eroticism, sexuality, power, violence and voyeurism within their oeuvres. All the while establishing a link with the work of Newton. The work of diverse artists such as Salvador Dalí, David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock and Helmut Newton will be discussed throughout the evening.

The exhibition is organised in close collaboration with the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin.

Helmut Newton – A Retrospective is made possible with the support of Main Sponsor Wolford, Lead Benefactor Fonds 21 and Project Partners Spaces and VSBfonds.

Foam is supported by the BankGiro Loterij, De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek, City of Amsterdam, Delta Lloyd, Olympus and the VandenEnde Foundation.

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Distant Love