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August 23 2014

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Pirelli Celebrates 50 With A Little History

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Helmut Newton for Pirelli

The Pirelli Calendar turns 50 in 2014. To celebrate, the tire company execs have decided not to create a new edition. Rather, they’re releasing a previously unpublished version, originally slated for 1986, shot in Tuscany and Monte Carlo by none other than the prolific Helmut Newton.

First, some backstory: The calendar has become a mainstay marketing tool for a company that would otherwise have no real link to the ├╝berglam sphere of fashion photography (think: Herb Ritts’ 1991 edit, photographed in the Bahamas with the likes of Cindy Crawford and Kate Moss, or Norman Parkinson’s 1985 datebook with Iman in Edinburgh).

Helmut Newton for Pirelli

It’s with some irony, then, that Newton’s commission was the first to feature direct Pirelli product placement. Prior to 1986, the only connection to the company’s goods was vague (tire tracks seen in Uwe Ommer’s 1984 calendar, for example). When tasked to feature Pirelli’s wheels front and center, Newton eagerly embraced the challenge. The images are chock-full of horsepower.

Pirelli didn’t stop there. The brand commissioned former Pirelli sharpshooters Peter Lindbergh and Patrick Demarchelier to snap a “celebratory” lineup of such models as Karolina Kurkova and Alek Wek, and organized a retrospective, which will be held in the company’s HangarBicocca venue in Milan. The latter will showcase the work of the thirty-plus photographers who have contributed to the calendar over the years.

Photos: Helmut Newton, Courtesy of Pirelli

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Dept. of Culture