On 2 June 2023, the Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin will open its new exhibition “ALICE SPRINGS.RETROSPECTIVE”. On the occasion of the 100th birthday of June Newton aka Alice Springs, over 200 photographs will be shown throughout the exhibition space on the first floor of the Museum of Photography.
Abb. oben : Alice Springs, Sirpa Lane, Paris 1972, © Helmut Newton Foundation
While major Alice Springs exhibitions were already realised at the HNF in 2010 and 2016, many of the photographs in this retrospective have never been shown before. Extensive research in the HNF’s own archives, in particular the collection from the Newtons’ shared flat in Monaco, which was recently brought to Berlin, has provided a new insight into the work of Alice Springs – and these sometimes spectacular results will now be shown for the first time as vintage or exhibition prints.
Under the pseudonym Alice Springs, June Newton worked as a photographer since 1970, especially in portraiture.
Helmut Newton’s flu marked the beginning of his own uvre. June Newton had him explain to her how to use a camera and light meter and photographed an advertising picture for the French cigarette brand “Gitanes” in Paris in 1970. The portrait of the smoking model was the starting signal for the new career of the Australian theatre actress, who had little prospect of an engagement in France because of the language barrier. Subsequently, José Alvarez, who was running an advertising agency in Paris at the time, arranged for her to do commercials for pharmaceutical products. And it was Alvarez, by then head of the “Editions du Regard”, who published the first portrait book of Alice Springs in |983.
From the mid-1970s onwards, she also created numerous portraits, human images full of empathy, which to this day convey Alice Springs’ characteristic mixture of empathy and curiosity for her contemporaries.
In the portraits of her fellow photographers – including Richard Avedon, Brassaï, Ralph Gibson, Sheila Metzner and Robert Mapplethorpe – as well as other celebrities such as Nicole Kidman, Isabelle Adjani, Vivienne Westwood, Liam Neeson and Claude Chabrol, Alice Springs succeeds not only in capturing the look of the sitters, but also their aura.
Even though most of those portrayed belong to the cultural jet set, Alice Springs makes no fundamental distinction between social classes. Her camera view of the people is usually concentrated on their faces; sometimes she captures them in a narrow frame as a bust or three-quarter portrait. The subjects look curiously, openly and directly into her 35 mm camera. There are only a few studio portraits among them; the majority were taken – mostly in natural light – in public spaces and in front of or in the homes of the protagonists. Thus we encounter vain poses or natural self-confidence as well as shy glances. The portraits, commissioned by magazines as well as taken on their own initiative, become visual commentaries, interpretations of the sitters. Alice Springs allows each and every sitter his or her individuality. In doing so, she always succeeds in adding a new and unusual image, as free of clichés as possible, to the generally valid and familiar image. Possibly her deep knowledge of acting helps her to look at and behind the facade of the human being at the same time.
Also interesting are the portraits of her husband, often taken during his shoots, which together with Newton’s portraits of his wife as well as selected self-portraits round off the representative show of works. In a way, these private images continue the earlier joint exhibition “Us and Them”. In the rear exhibition room, photographs from this legendary joint project and other mutual portraits can be seen. In this way, the circle closes several times, for the lives and work of Helmut and June Newton were connected in the most diverse ways and now come together again in the Berlin exhibition.
Museum für Fotografie
Opening : Friday 2. June 2023, 7pm
Exhibition Dates : Saturday, 3. June – Sunday, 19. November