Sunbaker was taken while he was on holiday at Culburra, on the New South Wales South Coast, in 1937, a year of popular optimism before the War.
The sunbaker is completely relaxed and at one with the land. He lies with his back exposed to the sun, seawater and sweat sparkling on his skin. Dupain used a low-angle shot, which transforms the simple shapes of the man’s oval head and triangular torso into a mountain-like outcrop set against the horizon.
This image was inspired by the work of European modernist photographers, who were more interested in exploring abstract form than in making descriptive photographs.
Sunbaker has become a national image. The classical simplicity of the figure replaces the cliches of athletic masculine imagery.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra