" Per tutta la mia carriera ho cercato di mostrare il significato profondo dei soggetti scelti in modo astratto, dando la mia interpretazione personale".
Maxwell Dupain Spencer è considerato uno dei più grandi fotografi australiani. Nato a Sidney nel 1911, ha studiato alla Sydney Grammar School. A 13 anni gli venne regalata la sua prima macchina fotografica e rapidamente sviluppò un avido interesse per la fotografia. Vinse il “Carter Memorial Prize for Productive Use of Spare Time” nel 1928 e si unì al NSW Photographic Society un anno dopo. Qui ebbe modo di incontrare la leggenda della fotografia pittorialista australiana: Harold Cazneaux.
Nel 1930, Dupain iniziò un apprendistato di tre anni con il fotografo Cecil Sydney Bostock, grazie al quale apprese le tecniche della fotografia in studio, la disciplina e la rigorosa attenzione al dettaglio. Nel 1934, all’età di 23 anni, Dupain decise di mettersi in proprio e di aprirsi uno studio in Bond Street. Da qui iniziò una lunga carriera che lo portò ad un grande successo.
Attraverso le sue immagini, Dupain ha sottolineato la semplicità e l’immediatezza dello scatto, creando opere che si caratterizzano per l’audacia del punto di vista, la messa a fuoco nitida e le armoniose composizioni grafiche. Dupain ha fotografato instancabilmente la sua amata terra e, in particolare, Sydney, lasciando una eredità di oltre un milione di fotografie.
Il suo lavoro è stato raccolto dalle gallerie australiane più importanti e da collezionisti privati di tutto il mondo. Osservò e ritrasse con grande modernità attimi ed emozioni di una nazione, mostrandoci la vita australiana e la “cultura della spiaggia". Altrettanto famosi furono gli scatti architettonici, dalle linee e dalle simmetrie perfette.
Anche nel nudo riuscì ad applicare perfettamente la tecnica adoperata per gli interni ed i paesaggi. Dupain giocava con luce e la forma corporea preferendo portare il soggetto a retrocedere rispetto all’insieme al fine di esaltarne mistero e sensualità.
Max dupain 1938
Maxwell Spencer Dupain AC (22 April 1911 – 27 July 1992) was an Australian modernist photographer.
Early lifeDupain received his first camera as a gift in 1924, spurring his interest in photography. He later joined the Photographic Society of NSW, where he was taught by Justin Newlan; after completing his tertiary studies, he worked for Cecil Bostock in Sydney.
Early yearsBy 1934 Max Dupain had struck out on his own and opened a studio in Bond Street, Sydney. In 1937, while on the south coast of New South Wales, he photographed the head and shoulders of a friend, Harold Salvage, lying on the sand at Culburra Beach. The image, entitled Sunbaker, subsequently became Dupain's most famous piece.
However, it was not until the 1970s that the photograph received wide recognition. It was purchased in 1976 by the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and has become a national icon.
Later yearsDuring World War II Dupain served with the Royal Australian Air Force in both Darwin and Papua New Guinea helping to create camouflage.
The war affected Dupain and his photography, by creating in him a greater awareness of truth in documentary. In 1947, these feelings were reinforced when he read a book Grierson on Documentary which defined the need for photography without pretence. The catchcry was "the creative treatment of actuality". Dupain was keen to restart the studio with this new perspective and abandon what he called the "cosmetic lie of fashion photography or advertising illustration". Refusing to return to the "cosmetic lie" of advertising, Dupain said:
"Modern photography must do more than entertain, it must incite thought and by its clear statements of actuality, cultivate a sympathetic understanding of men and women and the life they live and create."Dupain's documentary work of this period is exemplified in his photograph "Meat Queue". He used a more naturalistic style of photography, "capturing a moment of everyday interaction [rather than] attempting any social comment".
Dupain also worked extensively for the University of New South Wales and CSR Limited and made many trips to the interior and coast of northern Australia. However, apart from his war service he rarely left Australia, the first time not until 1978, when he was 67, and even then it was to photograph the new Australian Embassy in Paris, designed by his longtime friend and associate Harry Seidler. He wrote, "I find that my whole life, if it is going to be of any consequence in photography, has to be devoted to that place where I have been born, reared and worked, thought, philosophised and made pictures to the best of my ability. And that's all I need".
In the 1950s the advent of the new consumerism meant that there was plenty of promotional photography for advertising and he attracted clients from magazines, advertising agencies and industrial firms. In between this he devoted time to pursue his love of architecture, and began architectural photography, which he continued most of his life.
Personal lifeIn 1939, after the outbreak of World War II, Dupain married Olive Cotton (also a photographer) but they divorced soon after. A decade later, Dupain married Diana Illingworth and subsequently they had a daughter Danina and a son Rex, who also became a photographer.
Dupain was given an OBE in the New Year's honours list, 1981.
Dupain continued working until his death in 1992.
BibliographyFor a full list, see
- Max Dupain’s Australian Landscapes, Mead and Beckett, Australia, 1988.
- Fine Houses of Sydney, Irving Robert; Kinstler John; Dupain Max, Methuen, Sydney, 1982.
- Max Dupain Photographs published by Ure Smith, Sydney, 1948.
Photograph of Olive Cotton at the beach, taken by Max Dupain
Max Dupain: Jean with Wire Mesh 1936
Valentina Blinova in L'Oiseau de feu [The Firebird], Ballets Russes, Sydney, 1936-1937 / photograph by Max Dupain
Igor Youskevitch (Ukrainian Ігор Юшкевич) in Le Carnaval, between 1936–37. Photo by Max Dupain.
Sunbaker is an iconic photograph by Australian photographer Max Dupain.
Harold Salvage sunbaking, variant to "The Sunbather" from Camping trips on Culburra Beach by Max Dupain and Olive Cotton 1937
Emmy Towsey (Taussig) and Evelyn Ippen, Bodenwieser Ballet in Centennial Park, Sydney, ca. 1939 - Max Dupain
Russian ballerina and actress Tamara Toumanova and Ukrainian ballet dancer and choreographer Serge Lifar performing the Swan Lake. between 6 Dec 1936-Aug 1940
Tatiana Riabouchinska and Roman Jasinsky in Les Dieux mendiants (The Gods go a-begging), between Nov 1938-Aug 1940 photograph by Max Dupain.
From 1936-1941, three tours by the beautful young dancers of the Russian Ballet astonished Australian audiences with modern dance. Box office records were broken as the theatre was filled every night for long seasons, especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Avant gard photographer Max Dupain, captured them in studio and theatre photographs, and the negatives are held by the State Library of New South Wales. These ballet tours established ballet in Australia and helped to lead to the creation of the Australian Ballet some years after the War.
:Alison Lee, stage name Helene Lineva and star of the Original Ballet Russe, 1939-1940, posing in the studio, Sydney - photographer Max Dupain
Alison Lee, stage name Helene Lineva and star of the Original Ballet Russe, 1939-1940, posing in the studio, Sydney - photographer Max Dupain
Rescue & resuscitation I, Manly 1940s
Group at Bondi, 1940s
Rescue & resuscitation I, Manly 1940s
Group at Bondi, 1940s
A Barmaid at Work in Wartime Sydney. Petty's Hotel, Sydney, 6pm, 1941. - see Six o'clock swill
Photograph of painter William Dobell
Rachel Cameron and Henry Legerton in the Kirsova Ballet Les Sylphides, Max Dupain Studio, Sydney, between 1941-1944 - photographer Max Dupain
Photograph of Australian painter Russell Drysdale with some canvases, taken by Max Dupain 1945
Adelaide street scene by Dupain (1946)
Photograph of North Terrace in Adelaide, taken by Max Dupain
The tug Hero towing Pamir to Sydney Heads.
Rose Seidler House (built 1950) — at Turramurra (now Wahroonga), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Modern Movement house designed by the architect Harry Seidler for his parents, and winner of the Sir John Sulman medal in 1951.
Portrait of Walter Gropius with Harry Seidler in Sydney at the 1954 RAIA convention.