Max Dupain works laid to rest at auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 15th June, 2017

Collectors will have a golden opportunity to obtain a piece of Australian photographic history when Mossgreen’s auction entitled Max Dupain (1911-1992) – Part II: The Final Estate Photographs gets underway from 10.30am Monday June 19 in its Sydney office at 36-40 Queen Street, Woollahra.

Up for grabs are some of the original works (now belonging to son Rex Dupain) from the estate of what experts agree is one of the country’s most important photographers.

Dupain created some of the most iconic 20th century images, which reflected a nation and its culture and resonated with the collective Australian consciousness.

He tirelessly photographed his beloved homeland, particularly Sydney, leaving a legacy of captivating images.

For many, Dupain’s photographs define Australian beach life. His famous Sunbaker, 1937 (which Mossgreen sold for an auction record for an Australian photograph of $105,400 in its 2016 first auction of his estate works) captures the carefree optimism of the time just a couple of years before the outbreak of World War II.

However, it was not only beach culture that interested Dupain. He also was fascinated by everyday life – people, architecture, cities and landscapes – which he fully documented as Australia underwent the rapid change and development of modern times.

Dupain was inspired by European modernist photographers and was one of the few among his generation to experiment with Surrealism, producing images which played with double exposure, montage, rotation, and combination printing to create powerful optical illusions, lurid juxtapositions and abstract forms.

The photographer believed 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,” he once said. 

More than 600 original prints are featured in the auction and Mossgreen’s head of art & research Petrit Abazi says this second and final instalment will complete the largest possible retrospective of the artist’s oeuvre.

“Among a number of these iconic images are works never before seen in public,” he says.

Auction highlights include Surf Race Start circa 1940, Fishing at Tathra 1940s, Wheat Silos Newcastle 1940s and Little Nude 1938.

Auction goers also should be interested in Aerial View of Manly, Dee Why Promenade 1940s, Diana with Umbrella 1960, Cowrie Shell in Rock Pool 1980s, Coastal Shack, Storm Brewing and Morning at the Entrance 1952.


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