Olive COTTON, Untitled (sand and spinifex) Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 2003

Untitled (sand and spinifex) c.1935 Place made: Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: printed image 24.5 h x 19.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2012
Accession No: NGA 2012.1388

An interest in the optical and atmospheric effects created by light hitting undulations on sand dunes can be seen across a range of images by Cotton and Dupain in this exhibition and many other landscapes aside. This close study of the interplay of light, sand and an upright fence post is indeed very similar to studies of the sand’s ‘mood’ made at the same time by Dupain which also focus on diagonal and vertical forms created by sand, spinifex and their shadows; Cotton and Dupain possibly made these images together at Culburra. They may have had in mind the German modernist photographer Lux Feininger’s beach photographs from the 1920s, notably an atmospheric close-up of patterns in sand and spinifex which they saw in the 1931 anthology Modern Photography.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra