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Remembering June Newton Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

12 April 2021

June Newton, the Australian-born, globetrotting portrait photographer, died at her home in Monte Carlo at the age of 97. The wife of Helmut Newton, she used her own name when she worked on his art books. But as Alice Springs she was known as a portrait and fashion photographer.

Born in Melbourne, Australia in 1923, she was studying acting when she met Newton who had escaped Germany at 18 to open a photography studio in Melbourne. They married in 1948.

She used the stage name June Brunelle in a successful Australian theater career before moving to London in the mid-1950s. There she worked in TV before returning to Melbourne to star in the TV production of _Hedda Gabler. She won the 1958 Erik Kuttner Award for her acting.

Early in the 1960s, the Newtons moved to France and June quit acting to focus on painting. Her husband was beginning to attract attention for his work when, one day, he was incapacitated by the flu with an assignment scheduled.

In her 2004 autobiography Mrs. Newton, she tells the story:

One Sunday morning Helmut was in bed with flu and couldn't keep a rendezvous to photograph a model boy for a Gitanes cigarette advertisement on the Place Vendôme. So, seeing that someone had to let the boy know, I suggested I should go and that I should take a camera with me and shoot the picture myself, knowing that if it didn't work Helmut could always retake it during the week. Helmut showed me how to use the light meter and how to load the camera and I set off and took the picture. We sent it to the client and I knew I was in business when a check arrived in the mail addressed to Helmut.

She had used the name Alice Springs, an inside joke among Australians, who would recognize it as the name of a town in the Northern Territory.

She started doing commercial work and subsequently editorial spreads for magazines like Dépêche Mode, Elle, Marie Claire, Vogue, Nova and Mode Internationale.

She began concentrating on portraiture in 1976 for Egoïste, Vanity Fair, Interview, Stern, Photo and Passion. That's when she also began overseeing her husband's publications.

She photographed celebrities from the world of fashion, art and entertainment, including Nicole Kidman, Diana Vreeland, Yves Saint Laurent, William S. Burroughs, Charlotte Rampling, Grace Jones and Audrey Hepburn, among others. She preferred to shoot them outside of the studio in their own familiar surroundings. The images captured them as "people, not icons," one critic wrote.

When Helmet died in 2004, she opened the Helmut Newton Foundation in a former Prussian officer's casino in Berlin. In 2007, she directed the HBO documentary Helmut by June.

The complete works of both Helmut Newton and Alice Springs, including all negatives, contact prints, photographic prints, exhibition posters and publications, have been transferred to the Foundation's museum in Berlin, where they have been archived and exhibited.

On the occasion of June's 100th birthday in June 2023, Foundation director Matthias Harder will curate a new major Alice Springs retrospective.

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