She was the wife, muse and manager of photo legend Helmut Newton – but she was much more than that: Under the stage name Alice Springs, June Newton made her own career as a photographer and portraitist of the world’s great and beautiful. At the age of 97, the native Australian died on Friday in her adopted home of Monte Carlo.
“We mourn an outstanding personality and an internationally recognized photograph,” said the message from the Helmut Newton Foundation, of which she was president. In this role she made the Museum of Photography in Berlin a “unique place for photography”. “We will miss them very much.”
Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, paid tribute to the deceased: “In June Newton, the art world is losing a great and special photographer who set standards above all with her sensitive portrait photography. But we are losing a good friend and reliable partner, without whom the Helmut Newton Foundation and the Museum of Photography in Jebensstrasse would be inconceivable. “
At the age of 24, she, then still June Browne and a successful actress, met a young photographer in Melbourne, the city of her birth, who had fled Germany from the Nazis. The couple married a year later and stayed together for almost 60 years. In 2004 Helmut Newton died at the age of 83 after a traffic accident with his Cadillac in Los Angeles.
She did not start her own photo work until 1970. You now lived in Paris, Helmut Newton had the flu. For the upcoming advertising order from a French cigarette company, she had the camera and settings explained to her – and started instead.
This is how the artist name came about
According to her own account, she found her stage name Alice Springs by dropping a pin on an Australian map with her eyes closed. Her husband would have preferred that she work under a pseudonym, she said. Nevertheless, she later called her memoirs “Mrs. Newton”.
The list of her artistic portraits reads like a who’s who of the international cultural scene through the decades – from Ives Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld to Billy Wilder, Catherine Deneuve and Nicole Kidman to Madonna and the Hells Angels.
In 1978 she had her first solo exhibition in Amsterdam, followed by her first photo book in 1983. She also regularly accompanies her husband’s work with the camera and looks after his books and catalogs as artistic director.
While Helmut Newton often stages his photos dramatically, she relies on direct access to her characters. “I always tried not to change anything about my counterpart and to distract his mind from the fact that it was in front of the camera,” she said in 2010 in an interview with the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung”.
After her husband’s death in 2004, she set up a foundation named after him in Berlin. To mark its tenth anniversary, the widow once again showed the legendary exhibition “Us and Them”, which was also published in 1998 as an illustrated book under this title. In it, the couple documents their private and professional coexistence with unprecedented openness. In addition to intimate self-studies, there are numerous pairs of portraits that illustrate the different views of the two of them on their protagonists.
One day she is asked why there are so few women in commercial photography. “Yes, there were and are very few women in this business,” she replies. “But most of them were damn good.”