Alice Springs, Charlotte Rampling, Paris, 1982
© Helmut-Newton-Foundation

Alice Springs. Retrospective

Kunst- und Kulturstiftung Opelvillen Rüsselsheim

Last year, June Newton alias Alice Springs would have celebrated her 100th birthday. Using Alice Springs as a pseudonym, from 1970 onwards June Newton (1923–2021) worked as a photographer. Her own oeuvre kicked off with her husband, Helmut Newton, catching the flu. She subsequently proceeded to make countless portraits, images of people that are steeped in empathy and to this day exude Alice Springs’ characteristic mixture of compassion for and curiosity towards her contemporaries.

The Helmut Newton Foundation in Berlin took the centenary year as a good occasion to bring together a new selection of about 200 of her photographs. These images, and many are truly spectacular, are now being presented at Opelvillen. It becomes clear that like her husband Alice Springs was active across three genres: portraiture, nudes, and fashion (as well as advertising work), but her weighting was different. Above all, with their mix of immense authenticity and intensity her incomparable portraits remain stunning. They include images of fellow photographers, including Richard Avedon, Ralph Gibson, Sebastião Salgado and Robert Mapplethorpe, not to mention shots of other prominent celebrities such as Charlotte Rampling, Catherine Deneuve, Joseph Beuys, Karl Lagerfeld, Fanny Ardant, or Niki de Saint Phalle.

In her images of people, Alice Springs concentrated mainly on their faces and frequently cropped the photos carefully to offer only a bust or three-quarter portrait, bereft of additional accessories. She took only a few of the portraits in her studio, with the majority shot in natural light in public spaces or in the sitters’ own apartments.

Her self-portraits and portraits of her husband are assigned a special role in the exhibition. Photographs of Alice Springs hang next to those of Helmut Newton, bringing the subject of the exhibition full circle at several levels, as the life and work of Helmut and June Newton were interwoven in all manner of ways.