Australian Story

There's something incredibly unforgettable about the photography of Max Dupain. The renowned Australian photographer captured images that are undeniably Australian but with universal appeal; photographs that are simultaneously nostalgic and timeless.

[Left to Right, Top to Bottom] Sunbather 1937, Bondi, 1939,
Beach Cricket 1947, Surf Race Beach Start c1940]

He is particularly well known for his intimate portraits of beach culture in the 1930s and 40s, but for Dupain, these photographs were simply “how I used to spend my weekends, taking pictures for exhibition as a break from commercial work." His most celebrated image, Sunbaker, was taken while on holidays - "The best work is always done on holidays".

[Left to Right, Top to Bottom] Sydney Opera House 1965, 1965, 1967, 1973

During the week however, Dupain was a versatile commercial photographer and an early champion of modernist architecture. One of his most comprehensive projects was his documentation of the entire construction process of the Sydney Opera House, a project he photographed so extensively that his final catalogue of some 1500 photographs was said to have resembled a flick-book depicting the iconic sails rising from the ground.

[Left to Right] Shark Tower, c. 1939 [Architect: Eric W Andrew and Winsome Hall] ,

Staircase, Buhrich I House, 1958 [Architect: Hugh and Eva Buhrich]

[Top to Bottom] Rose House, c. 1951 [Architect: Harry Seidler & Associates] ,
Fredericks Farmhouse, 1983 [Architect: Glenn Murcutt]

Dupain also photographed the work of many preeminent local (or locally based) architects, including a 45 year collaboration with Harry Seidler, and many early projects of Pritzker Prize Laureate, Glenn Murcutt. His architectural photography is sharp, simple and straightforward, with angles and compositions that were considered to be daring and occasionally controversial at the time.

Dupain passed away in 1992, but his legacy lives on in his son Rex, also a photographer. Dupain's work continues to gain wide acclaim, and for better or for worse, plans to immortalise Dupain's "Bondi" photograph on a prominent building on Sydney Harbour eventually fell through some years ago. Although he would have been impressed to see that his strict black and white code had been applied, his photography need not feature on buildings to know that his work has already made a lasting impression on the modern architecture of Australia.

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Polka Dot Bride said...

These shots are stunning- I've never learnt about him! The black and white tones are perfect too

Ms Unreliable said...

He was definitely before his time, especially in Australia!

Dupain's son Rex, also a photographer, was almost arrested a two years ago for taking photos at Bondi - how times have changed!

Anonymous said...

Sorry darl, that's not Rose Seidler House above the Glenn Murcutt farmhouse shot. It's another fabulous Seidler creation.

Ms Unreliable said...

Thank you kindly Anonymous, you're spot on the money. The house above is actually the Rose House, located in the same suburb AND completed the same year as the Rose Seidler House - hence my confusion!

The Rose Seidler House was Harry's first house, designed for his parents.

The Rose House however, was designed for Mr & Mrs Julian Rose.