Us and Them is an ode to partnership and art. First published in 1999, it gathers photographs by Helmut Newton and his wife, the actress and photographer June Newton, who worked under the pseudonym Alice Springs. The collection is arranged into five sections, alternating the gaze between Newton and Spring’s own tender internal world of “Us”, and the glamorous encounters of their social and professional milieu -“Them”. The “Us” sections of the book reveal the pair’s portraits of each other and themselves, as startling in their moments of vulnerability as they are infectious in their episodes of joy. We see the pair pensive, weary, or roaring with laughter. Alice photographs Helmut on set with his models, in the shower, and in stilettos. Helmut captures Alice in the kitchen, in costume, and hanging up the washing in the nude. Along the way, we are alerted to the frailties and intimacies that make up a long-term partnership and that coexisted with the high-voltage glamour for which Newton is renowned. The particular power of the pictures is to locate as much magnetism and beauty in an aging, ailing partner (Helmut in the hospital, Alice adjusting her spectacles), as in the pristine physiques of a Newton fashion shoot. In the concluding “Them” section, Newton and Springs each turn their lens on the same, typically famous, subjects, including Catherine Deneuve, Charlotte Rampling, David Hockney, Dennis Hopper, Karl Lagerfeld, and Timothy Leary. While Newton casts these subjects with his unique brand of statuesque allure, Springs deploys a softer focus to find something more suggestive, delicate, or playful. As we move from, in Newton’s words, “truth and simplicity” to “editorializing”, through youth and age, love and sex, and the public and private spheres, Us and Them offers not only an elegant example of independent visions within a shared life, but also a tender and inspiring chronicle of love through passing time.
Helmut Newton (1920–2004) was one of the most influential photographers of all time. He first achieved international fame in the 1970s while working principally for French Vogue, and became celebrated for his controversial scenarios, bold lighting, and striking compositions in street or interior settings, rather than studios. His many titles and awards included Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
June Newton, née Browne, was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1923. As a young woman she was passionately interested in the theater, and worked as an actress under the name June Brunell, receiving the Erik Kuttner award in 1956. She married the photographer Helmut Newton in Melbourne in 1948 and became a photographer herself in 1970, changing her name once again to Alice Springs. Her work has been featured in numerous exhibitions and publications, including Vanity Fair, Interview, Elle and Vogue. Her many famous subjects include William S. Burroughs, Catherine Deneuve, Graham Greene, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Mapplethorpe, Yves Saint Laurent, and Nicole Kidman.