AND GREY (online)
Years of Australian Photography 1900 - 1950
web based and copy-edited version of the introduction
to the book: Silver and Grey: Fifty Years of
Australian Photography 1900 - 1950, published in 1980.
written by Gael Newton, then the Curator of Photography
at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Presently (2006) Gael
is the Senior Curator of Australian and International
at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
this is basically the same as the original, the content
has not been updated.
process of photography was discovered in France and England
in the 1830s but was not
really developed commercially until the
1850s. The first photograph made in Australia appears to
have been a daguerreotype of Bridge Street, Sydney, which was
The Australian of Saturday 15 May 1841 as "an astonishingly
beautiful and minute sketch”. This comment reveals how
photography was appreciated for its aesthetic power as much
as its ability
to make accurate records.
majority of 19th century Australian photographers were concerned
with recording the character and
progress of the country, or the
stern faces of the settlers. It was not until the 1890s
that a conscious movement, aimed at using the camera more creatively
new trend “pictorialism” came
from England and the term reflected a desire to make
evocative pictures rather than
mere records. The movement followed a period in the 1880s
when technological advances had initiated the era of
the amateur “snapshooter”.
Photography was no longer the preserve of scientifically
minded gentlemen; it was the magic era of the Kodak company
Press the Button - We Do the Rest”.
the turn of the century advertisements were suggesting that
was so simple even a child could do
it (Fig.1). If
it had been so simple, then or now, groups of amateurs
would not have had to form camera clubs to improve
the quality of their images!
The first such societies were formed in the early 1890s.
One of the largest was the Photographic Society of
New South Wales, formed
in 1894 at the suggestion of the editor of the newly
launched photography magazine The Australasian
||Fig.1 "Mons" A.J
Perier Advertisement for Kodak Box Brownie C.1910
Fig.2 "Mons" A.J Perier Members of the Photographic Society
of New South Wales C.1910-20
such as the A.P.R. and Harrington’s
Photographic Journal, which had appeared in
1892, were usually published by
photographic supply firms catering to the new amateur
market. Along with technical articles and illustrations
of the work of the commercial
portrait studios, these magazines reported on the “art
versus photography” debate which had waxed
and waned since the invention of the process. The
could render detail more easily and
better than the artist and because of this it was
seen by some as a threat to painting.
general, however, photography was seen as an aid
to the artist rather than a potential art form.
Indeed by the turn of the century
the minute description of reality was not considered
the chief aim of the artist - his job was
to create a personal interpretation of the subject.
The High Victorian taste for detailed realism had
been largely replaced by a popular vogue for impressionistic
and "art for art’s sake" attitudes.
photography various attempts were made in the 1860s and 1870s
by photographers such as H. P. Robinson, Julia Margaret Cameron
and P. H. Emerson to make photographs rival the accepted arts.
However, it was not until 1892 that a real art movement in photography
developed. This came about when a group of British photographers
led by George Davison seceded from the Royal Photographic Society
of Great Britain to form the Linked Ring Brotherhood, which was
dedicated solely to developing photography as an art form. The
pictorialists (as all exponents of art photography of the period
came to be called) traced their origins back to 1890 when George
Davison’s photograph "The Onion Field" won a
silver medal at the annual salon of the Royal Photographic Society
(Fig. 3). “The Onion Field” was impressionistic in
style - an effect achieved by diffusing the sharp focus of the
lens. As with the earlier art photographers’ work, “The
Onion Field” was also criticised for its betrayal of the
inherent realism of the camera. The Linked Ring rejected the
parent society’s limitation of photography to scientific
or commercial purposes. Instead, they argued that many means
were justified in the creation of beautiful photographic images.
photography as a movement in Australia appears to have developed
first in Adelaide in the late 1890s. John Kauffmann was credited
by his contemporaries with directly introducing the style to
the South Australian Photographic Society in 1897(1).
Kauffmann was born in Adelaide and became one of the many converts
photography when he travelled to England in 1887. He abandoned
his work in an architectural office and spent the next ten years
studying photography in England and Europe. Whether Kauffmann
exhibited at the Linked Ring salons is not known. However the
style he practised on his return to Adelaide in 1897 was impressionistic
(Fig. 4). According to the press reviews of his exhibitions,
Kauffmann’s work was "some of the most perfect photographic
work ever seen "with". . . a delicacy and gradation
of the tones, giving a depth and softness singularly attractive
to the lover of artistic effect"(2). His photographs were praised
as "interpretations of Nature" as if to distinguish
them from more prosaic work.
George Davison The Onion Field 1890
Fig.4 John Kauffmann After Sunrise Victor Harbour,South Australia c1898
must have been working in a new manner to attract the widespread
praise his photographs received. The press comment on their value
as “interpretations”, not records, of nature reflected
a general trend in the arts towards the acceptance of impressionism.
For example, on the occasion of the opening of the new Art Gallery
of South Australia in 1900 Lord Tennyson declared:
cannot minutely imitate and define everything in detail, for
your picture then would lack reality and life, since it would
not give the mystery in which the universe is rapt(3)."
who slavishly copied nature were deficient in an understanding
of the "poetry of the indefinite"(4).
if Kauffmann was the first to introduce pictorialism (or photo-impressionism
as it was sometimes known) to Australia, popular taste was already
conditioned to accept the soft focus and atmospheric effects
in his photographs.
1901 the annual salon of the South Australian Photographic Society
was dominated by the new pictorial style. Kauffmann’s standing
in the society was such that he was asked to be the judge in
that year. The press review described the exhibits as the finest
ever seen, with some works being mistaken for works of art owing
to the absence of "all the sharp and hard lines usually
associated with photography"(5).
the next few years pictorialism of the extreme soft focus kind
became the most popular style at exhibitions run by photographic
societies in all the states. Exhibitions also grew in number,
size and scope. Several salons, as the exhibitions were called
in those days, proudly declared that they were international
but this usually meant a handful of exhibits from overseas camera
clubs, and the odd print by a great name such as Edward Steichen.
It was not until 1905 when the Royal Photographic Society in
London sent out a loan exhibition of overseas pictorialists'
work that Australian photographers could compare their work with
the work of the leaders of the movement previously known only
through magazine illustrations.
1909 the Photographic Society of New South Wales invited Harold
Cazneaux to hold a one-man show of his work. This was the first
time a photographer's work was publicly presented in the accepted
manner of one-man shows by traditional artists. It was very well
received by the public and the press. Even local artists such
as Sydney Ure Smith were impressed by Cazneaux's work and the
progress of art photography. Ure Smith later used his position
as editor of The Home magazine, founded in 1920, and Art
in Australia, founded in 1916, to support the work of the
best art photographers.
had arrived in Sydney in 1904 to take up a position at Freeman's
studio. He had been working as an artist-retoucher in Adelaide
at Hammer's studios from 1897, and had been inspired to take
up art photography by seeing the work of John Kauffmann and the
Adelaide pictorialists. Cazneaux's one-man show enabled him to
demonstrate "the new beauty, beyond anything I had dreamed
of in terms of the camera(6) which pictorialism had revealed.
It was not until Cazneaux moved to a better paid position in
Sydney, and bought his first camera, a Midge Box, that he was
able to express his own vision of the potential of the new art
form. He began taking pictures to and from work, as well as portraits
of friends and landscape studies made on excursions to the countryside.
one-man show revealed Cazneaux's hallmark - his versatility with
all subjects, and contributed a new and exciting body of work
to the pictorial movement in Australia. The photographs in the
exhibition were done in the rather sombre, tonally impressionistic
style of the day. This type of work was influenced by art nouveau
and the tonal impressionism of J. M. Whistler which had been
popular since the turn of and remained so until the late 1920s
W. T. Owen Victoria Tower - Twilight London 1925
Fig.6 Harold Cazneaux Silver and Grey - Circular Quay c 1909
showed in his work how a whole range of subjects could be treated
pictorially, but his images of Sydney were a revelation of the
picturesque and poetic life of the city. They were taken most
often at dusk or early morning on his route to work, or on misty
days when the impressionistic qualities existed. Images such
as "Silver and Grey - Circular Quay" (Fig. 6) which
was in the exhibition, were not intended as factual records of
specific places but as impressions of the atmospheric charm and
bustling life of the city. Because the photographs were also
unmistakably Cazneaux's vision, they affirmed that photography
could be a medium of personal expression by an artist.
is well to consider at this point the impact of pictorialism
on photography. The change from the 19th century style of landscape,
for example, can be seen clearly by comparing Norman Deck's earliest
images as in plate I , "National Park, Audley" c 1900,
which is typical of the finely detailed, evenly lit scenes of
late 19th century landscape photographs, with his later romantic
atmospheric impressions, as in plates 3 and 5, "The In-Coming
Tide" and "A Bend in the Road".
the titles convey the change in attitude to the subject in pictorial
photography. The 19th century landscape photographs described
a specific place, the new pictorial images represented a response
to nature. Titles were an important part of pictorialism as they
were meant to suggest the real meaning of the picture. These
were not literal meanings as the moralising and storytelling
of Victorian painting was considered too prosaic. Instead they
dealt with "the poetry of the indefinite". Titles such
as "At Eventide", "Day is Done" were popular;
often pictures were labelled "An Impression". They
were used to suggest a sentiment about the subject. For example,
James Stening's "The Edge of the Common" (plate 2),
might cause the viewer to ponder that on the edges of town one
might still muse upon life's meaning in the midst of a still
untouche Nature before city and civilisation encroached any further.
Cazneaux was perhaps making a witty comment on this taste for
romantic musings on nature by calling one of the pictures in
his exhibition, of a man holding a billy, "Billy Meditation" (plate
in portraiture one only has to recall the static, factual, evenly
fit 19th century portraits in family albums, in comparison with
Jack Cato's luminous study of "The Duchess of Leinster" (plate
23) to realise that pictorialism brought drama, mood and life
to portraiture. In this picture the role of the beautiful woman
as a divine muse is suggested by the way the duchess gazes serenely
and a little expectantly upward to the light source.
added drama and atmosphere which pictorialism brought to photography
was achieved by an arsenal of printing techniques which were
used to suppress the detail recorded by the camera lens. Reality
was not considered attractive by any of the main art styles of
the day. Pictures were a heightened and improved version of life.
Thus lenses were put out of sharp focus or chiffon used to diffuse
the image on the final print. Unwanted details such as wrinkles
or telegraph poles could be removed with re-touching tools. If
the subject was not atmospheric enough, areas of the print could
be darkened with pencil or lampblack and highlights added or
removed with knives and whitener. Negatives could also be treated
in parts with dyes to darken or lighten tone or accentuate lines.
of these techniques were necessary as the cameras and printing
papers of the day did not record the full tone and detail of
the subject. Bromoil printing was one of the most popular and
difficult techniques used to achieve a more dramatic print. It
was introduced to Australia in 1910 and involved bleaching a
normal print to accept or reject printers ink applied with a
stiff brush. As can be seen in Figs. 7 and 8, the difference
between a straight print off the negative and a bromoiled print
was considerable. Fig. 9 shows some of the equipment used by
7 Harold Cazneaux Outward Bound unretouched
Fig.8 Harold Cameaux Outward Bound bromoil
Fig.9 Retouching tools and bromoilinq brushes used in the pictorial era
1917 there was a reaction against the "rut of low tone" and
the imposition of English mist effects in a land of sunshine.
Several groups broke away from the large societies in an effort
to raise the standard of pictorial photography. Most groups were
modelled on the Linked Ring in that membership was by invitation
only. The Sydney Camera Circle formed in 1916 by Harold Cazneaux,
James Stening, Cecil Bostock, James Paton, Malcolm Mackinnon
and W. S. White was the most influential and sought to develop
a distinctive Australian school of pictorial photography.
grew to about a dozen members and the circle enjoyed its greatest
peak around 1920-22 with successes at the London Salon and the
Amateur Photographer Colonial Competition. In 1921 a special
exhibition of the circle members' work was held at the Kodak
Salon. The momentum of the pictorial movement achieved its highest
point in 1924 and 1926 when national salons were held with exhibits
from other pictorial societies overseas. Substantial catalogues
designed and edited by Cecil Bostock were produced for the two
exhibitions. The Australian Salon did not become an annual event
and leadership passed to the Victorian Salon when it was formed
1928 the Royal Photographic Society held an exhibition of Australian
pictorial photography, which was a recognition of the success
of the Australians in developing a national school. It was also
the point in time when pictorialism was overtaken by the 20th
century. As a movement it had in its own day been called "modern" but
as societies became inclustrialised and the machine age was inaugurated
pictorialists became increasingly conservative in their social
and aesthetic values.
1928 the influence of art deco could be seen in the shift to
clear outlines and geometric shapes and patterns in the world
of Harold Cazneaux (plates 29, 55 and 56). Although the images
exploited the semi abstract designs created by light patterns
they were naturalistic. Progressive pictorialists like Cazneaux
were able to update their images with modern styling but could
not accommodate any unnatural distortion or extreme abstraction
of the subject.
Jack Cato noted in the 1950s when exchanging notes with Cazneaux
for his history of photography, The Story of the Camera in Australia,
pictorialism was "a revolution. A demand for the personal
and individual expression of the artist - freedom from all that
long dull formalism ... it was not only new, it was vital - exciting".
However, "the world it expressed is passing. The Plowman
no longer plods his homeward way to the thatched cottage. He
drives his tractor to a streamlined bungalow"(7).
1928 the machine age was felt to herald a new aesthetic. In an
article on "The Sydney of Tomorrow" written in 1928,
Jean Curlewis commented on the "tide of industry washing
further into the countryside with every month ... and the throb
of reciprocating engines filling the empty sunlight like a heartbeat".
The author predicted a new ideal of beauty and excitement in
the forms of the machine age: "Is it possible that a year
or two hence we shall lead our visitors to Walsh Bay or Darling
Island and bid them mark the pattern of bold masses and intricate
detail made against the sky by wheat silos?(8)"
1933 Max Dupain, who was then working in the commercial studio
of Cecil Bostock, was making studies of the Pyrmont wheat silos
which showed abstract formal structure of the subject. One of
the first of these "The Silos - Morning" (Fig. 10)
caused a stir at the Photographic Society of New South Wales
and was only defended by Cecil Bostock against criticisms of
its distortion. Industrial subjects were popular with pictorialists
throughout the 1920s and 1930s as can be seen in plates 41, 46,
50 and 52 as they sought to find in the new age pictorial beauty
with which they were familiar.
picturesque atmosphere of the subject was accentuated - not the
machine age forms.
Max Dupain The Silos - Morning 1933
Fig.11 Wolfgang Sievers Jewellery Worker Germany c1937
and his generation were being influenced by the New Photography
which was also known as the New Objectivity or occasionally even
the New Realism. Most often it was simply called modern photography.
It was developed most clearly in the Weimar Republic in Germany
between 1927-33 and spread quickly to other countries. The style
was influenced by developments in the visual arts in general
after World War 1.
line with contemporary architecture and painting of the time
the New Photography sought a pure abstract structure underlying
and unifying nature and the technology of the machine age. Naturalism
per se and sentimental content were rejected as were the painterly
and impressionistic effects of the pictorialists.
New Photography was characterised by clean lines, clear often
harsh lighting, a preference for geometric patterns and shapes
and an impersonal matter-of-factness to the images. As well as
purely formal experiments the New Photography encompassed a host
of subjects previously considered mundane, such as industrial
products, household items, and the workers who made them (Fig.
Neue Sachlichkeit movement (translated as the "new matter
of factness") in German painting in the late 1920s was one
of the sources of the movement in photography.
art deco style had helped create a taste for geometric patterns
and streamlined designs reflecting the clean lines of machinery.
Developments in post impressionism and abstract art had led the
way. The New Photography was also influenced by developments
in experimental film making to exploit the camera lens by the
use of odd angles such as bird's eye, worm's eye, close-ups,
montage and assymetrical viewpoints which rendered the subject
in a novel way and stressed the abstract pattern in the final
image. It was a style particularly suited to the depiction of
objects and industrial products and was accompanied by a massive
growth in the techniques of advertising illustration.
art deco was a decorative style, the New Photography was an expression
of an ideology which aimed to express the character of the post-war
industrial world in the 20th century. In its deepest levels the
New Photography substituted for the idea of nature seen through
a personal temperament (i.e. subjectivity), a theory of the image
as an emotional equivalent of the essence of the subject.
the pictorialists had used the subject as a stepping stone for
the creation of idealised or more imaginative versions in their
images, the New Photography analysed the objective world and
looked for the quality of "the thing-in-itself". This
phrase originated with Immanuel Kant but is usually associated
with Edward Weston and a whole school of realism in modern photography.
New Photography reached Australia via modern advertising and
publications such as Das Deutsche Licht1bild, Photographie and Modern
Photography. The latter was published by the British Studio magazine
and had the advantage of a text in English explaining the ideology
of the new images. The local photographic magazines recommended
the New Photography in these publications as a much needed stimulus
to pictorialism. The latter had fallen into repetitive formulas
and was out of step with the modern world.
early as 1917 the Australasian Photo-Review editors were expressing
concern at the limitations of pictorialism. By 1932 editor Keast
Burke was calling for support for the New Photography, if for
no other reason than its brilliant technical achievements demonstrated
in commercial advertising. The A.P.-R. reported on developments
in London and the significant "Modern Spirit" exhibition
in 1932. Their correspondent, the Rev. H. 0. Fenton, was alternately
fascinated and bemused by the technical achievements and novelty
of the New Photography. Like many of his pictorial colleagues,
Fenton could not decide whether the new was good or bad but was
bewildered by the predominance of geometric patterns and distorted
or abstract views of familiar objects. He quoted F. J. Mortimer,
the editor of the Amateur Photographer: "Once a
man photographed a room, now he takes the keyhole and makes an
enlargement of it(9).
the A.P.-R. reported those who were more sympathetic
to the threat of the new to the old world; those who believed "the
modern movement may influence the future trend of photography
by extending the range of our visions . . and provide us . .
with much needed stimulus"(10).
The pictorialists were nevertheless bewildered by the intense embrace of the
present and future by adherents of the New Photography. Max Dupain was greatly
influenced by the writings of G. H. Saxon Mills in Modern Photography 1931
who proclaimed that photography "belongs to the new age, its forms are
mechanistic rather than naturalistic. It is part and parcel of the terrific
and thrilling panomara opening out before us today of clean concrete buildings,
steel radio masts, and the wings of the air liner. But its beauty is only for
those who themselves are aware of the 'zeitgest' - who belong consciously and
proudly to this age, and have not their eyes forever fixed wistfully on the
in photography was a constant feature of salons during the 1930s.
Sydney Ure Smith supported both the commercial and expressive
aspects of the new in the pages of The Home and Art
in Australia magazines of which he was editor. Ure Smith
used the chic and smart advertising of the Russell Roberts studio
as well as publishing a portfolio of Dupain's work in Art
in Australia in 1935.
Roberts studio was typical of the rapid growth and sophistication
of commercial photography studios at the time. In 1917 at the
Photographic Society of New South Wales exhibition of pictorial
photography only two exhibitors were professionals. By the late
1930s the new commercial studios enjoyed a prestige equal to
that of the 19th century professional photographers in the portraits
and views trade - before the advent of the more imaginative amateur
photographers of the younger generation understood the more intellectual
side of modern photography. Dupain was an isolated figure working
to make the new style deeply expressive of his personal (but
not sentimental) response to the world.
the prevalence of modern photography in illustration and at salons,
the pictorialists did not extend any special recognition to Dupain
or any of his contemporaries. When the massive 150th Anniversary
Salon, celebrating Australia's foundation in 1788, was organised
by the pictorial and professional groups, it was billed as the "Finest
Exhibition of Modern Photography" ever held in Australia.
They mistook their success in attracting entries from other conservative
pictorialists around the world with being contemporary.
exhibition had an enormous number of technical and artistic categories,
but the awards and illustrations in the catalogue barely recognised
that anything had changed in photography or the world since the
early 1920s. Max Dupain was alone in the protest he made in a
letter to The Sydney Morning Herald at the organisers' failure
to seek out the work of great modern photographers like Lásló Moholy-Nagy,
Edward Steichen and Man Ray: "Great art has always been
contemporary in spirit. To-day we feel the surge of aesthetic
exploration along aesthetic lines, the social economic order
impinging itself on art, the repudiation of the 'truth to nature
criterion', and the galvanizing of art and psychology"(12).
language would have been incomprehensible to the pictorialists.
His criticisms were dismissed and his points deflected as a personal
attack on the judge, Harold Cazneaux. Even Cazneaux wrote a reply
warning against "exploration along abstract lines" because
the ultimate destination was unknown(13).
was precisely the adventuring into a new world that attracted
the younger generation. Cazneaux had been ambivalent about the
direction of the new world and its photographic expression since
the early 1930s, but hejoined the Contemporary Camera Groupe
which was formed by Dupain later in 1938. The foreword to the
catalogue of their first and only exhibition was expressed in
a passionate language. "We hate the cliche, and would drive
a wedge between stagnant orthodoxy and original thought of the
Contemporary Camera Groupe included artists and photographers.
Cecil Bostock was one of the members and his semi abstract study "Phenomenon" (plate
60) was one of the exhibits, along with his study of the pattern
of scaffolding (plate 54). Bostock also began using the big glossy
prints which came into vogue with modern photography. Bostock's
work reveals that his concept of art photography was not limited
to the style of pictorialism.
and most of his pictorial colleagues found it difficult to accept
either abstract or distorted imagery. They remained faithful
to the idea of beauty formed in a pre-industrial society and
notions of the romantic and picturesque formed a century earlier.
Art was seen as a refuge rather than an adventure in contemporary
life. Pictorialism as a style was increasingly displaced from
the late 1920s until the advent of World War II.
the decade before World War II modern photography was established.
It was most often seen as a clever stylisation for illustration
work. Few photographers developed a personal body of work or
understood the ideology of the image as an emotional equivalent
of the subject.
years were zestful and exploratory. Montage was a popular technique
and exercises in the techniques of Man Ray were common. Surrealism
was a vogue for some time and photographers expressed literary
themes. Max Dupain's "Impassioned Clay" (plate 68)
was one of the few really successful images of the period using
montage. The girl's torso's relationship to the spiral form of
the shell was well suggested by the technique of superimposed
montages of the period did not quite master the technique well
enough to create that willing suspension of disbelief that the
models were meant to be taken as symbols of heroic manhood. Images
such as Le Guay's "The Progenitors" (plate 69) showed
a concern with the impact of inclustrialisation which was to
be confirmed by World War II - the finest achievement of mechanisation
war carried away the mood of free experimentation of the 1930s.
Efforts at surrealism, fancy techniques and the uncritical
acceptance of modern products disappeared. The still photographers
greatly influenced by the documentary movement in film. This
movement had a strong and imperative sense of a mission to
assist in the public understanding of the relationship of all
theorists were critical of the escapism of Hollywood glamour
films. John Grierson is credited as the inventor of the term
and his writings as presented by Forsyth Hardy in 1946 were influential
on Sydney photographers in the post-war years. Damien Parer was
a disciple of the documentary approach in film and introduced
many of his contemporaries, including Max Dupain, to the ideas
of the movement.
documentary movement was defined by Grierson as the "creative
treatment of actuality". It was not meant to be limited
to political propaganda or even obviously social subject matter.
The concept allowed for spiritual and aesthetic dimensions. It
was a kind of functionalist aesthetic. Grierson suggested that
a job well done, with no superfluous decoration, and one which
penetrated the subject to show new understanding of it was the
ideal approach. "The documentary ideal, after all, demands
no more than that the affairs of our time shall be brought to
the screen in any fashion which strikes the imagination and makes
observation a little richer than it was. At one level the vision
may be journalistic, at another it may rise to poetry and drama.
At another level its aesthetic quality may be in the mere lucidity
of its exposition"(15).
was important was the consideration of solid material or the
solid consideration of any material. When Dupain published a
monograph of his own work from 1935 to 1947 he described it as
documentary in this spirit and asserted the feeling of many of
his contemporaries that "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 create and live"(16).
new movement was sober and eloquent. It sought to express contact
with the subject and present some of the feeling of the reality.
It was the era which was to lead to the "Family of Man" exhibition
mounted by Edward Steichen in 1955 which toured the world. It
was the era of the growth of photo-journalism, the story essay
and Life magazine. It was also an era in which commercial photography,
particularly fashion illustration, flourished as never before.
Fashion photographers like Cecil Beaton were almost as glamorous
as the society figures they photographed.
the mid 1950s in Australia photographers committed to the documentary
idea were being treated with indifference by the professional
photographic establishment. In 1954, simultaneously in Melbourne
and Sydney, Max Dupain and Athol Shmith formed breakaway group(17) from
the Institute of Photographic Illustrators. The new groups
were concerned at "the present high degree of technical
competence, professional polish and the lack of any real personal
attitude" in photography.
Institute of Photographic Illustrators had been formed in 1948
in the documentary spirit but had become involved with glamourisation
rather than meaning. In 1949 reviewing one of their exhibitions,
H. Tatlock Miller remarked on the watering down of the camera's
real power to deal with reality.
1950s were a difficult time for creative photographers concerned
with working in a meaningful way personally or professionally.
The pictorial salons had become moribund and the contemporary
photographers had no similar exhibiting venues. The institute
and other professional groups gave preference to commercial photography.
Personal exhibitions were very rare. In 1955 the Sydney breakaway
group organised an exhibition called "Six Photographers" at
David Jones' Gallery. Their aim was to avoid the technical and
pictorial clichés so evident in commissioned work and
to make unstaged, spontaneous and personal records(18).
ideal of younger photographers was to work as photojournalists
for the big magazines such as Life and many left Australia -
David Moore and David Potts included - and spent the decade overseas.
It was nevertheless a period when the zestful and inventive fashion
photography and dramatic social portraiture of Athol Shmith flourished.
Wolfgang Sievers' image of 1960 heralds the cool austerity, elegance
and graphic effect which was to characterise the 1960s.
from the 1960s would become more introspective and rather grimly
energetic, expressing perhaps disillusionment with the progress
of the century.
TO THE INTRODUCTION
Gael Newton. John Kauffmann - Art Photographer , The
Australasian Antique Collector, 1980 ed Ition, I.P.C. Business Press,
Star. 8 October, 1897, p. 2, and The South Australian
11 February, 1898.
Adelaide Observer, 14 April, 1900, p. 15.
South Australian Register, 28 November. 1898, p.4.
South Australian Register, 19 October, 1901.
in Jack Cato's The Story of the Camera in Australia, Georgian
House, Melbourne. 1953.
between Harold Cazneaux and Jack Cato, 1 December. 1951,
and 27 February. 1952, Art Gallery of New South Wales library.
Curlewis. Australia Beautiful, Easter Pictorial, Sydney Number,
published by The Home, 1928, p. 14.
J. Mortimer, Photograms ofthe Year 1932, quoted in A.P.-R.,
March 15, 1933, pp. 124-25.
Borup, London review quoted in Keast Burke editorial A.P.-R.,
May 1932. p. 174.
H. Saxon Mills, Modern Photography, its Development,
Scope and Possibilities , Modern Photography, special autumn number
of The Studio, London. 1931, p. 8.
Morning Herald. March 28, 1938.
8 April, 1938.
Camera Groupe exhibition catalogue, Art Gallery of New South
Hardy (editor). Grierson on Documentary, Collins. London,
1946. p. 31.
Dupain - Photographs, Ure Smith. 1948, p. 12.
from Max Dupain to Helmut Newton, 14 August. 1954. Norman
Iken, Helmut Newton, Dacre Stubbs, Athol Shmith, Wolfgang
Sievers were approached to be the Melbourne group and were
meant to join in the exhibition in Sydney at David Jones'
Photographers. David Jones' Art Gallery exhibition catalogue,
Art Gallery of New South Wales library. The six were Gordon
Andrews, Max Dupain. Kerry Dunclas, Hal Missingham. David
Potts and Axel Poignant.
Taylor, Pictorial Photography in Britain 1900-1920. Arts Council
of Great Britain. London, 1978.
Mellor (editor), Germany - The New Photography 1927-33, Arts
Council of Great Britain, London, 1978.
list of plates used in the original book
mostly now property
of the Art Gallery
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