Olive COTTON, Glasses Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 2003

Glasses 1937 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Creation Notes: printed 1997
Materials & Technique: photographs, Silver gelatin photograph Edition: 2/1997
Date Published: 1997

Edition Notes: Printed by Sydney Dark Room, Paddington. Discussion with Josef Lebovic (6 FEB 2016) indicates that there were two late prints produced of this image in 1997. Josef is unsure whether any further late prints were produced. AGNSW holds the vintage print.
Dimensions: printed image 28.4 h x 21.0 w cm sheet 33.1 h x 24.9 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2016
Accession No: NGA 2016.1

The feature of this image is the strong tonal contrast created by a spotlight placed behind the subject. Cotton used this pictorial strategy elsewhere, perhaps most notably in Teacup ballet. Glasses illustrates Cotton’s close formal and professional association with Dupain. Compare it with his Advertisement for Hoover, also produced in 1937. These two photographs show that Cotton and Dupain were together investigating the fundamental relationship that exists in photography between light, form and shadow. In both works, the shadow operates like photography itself: it is created by light hitting or passing through an object and then reproducing that object. Contemporary viewers with knowledge of international photography would have recognised the influence of avant-garde photographers in these images, including André Kertész’s still life photographs of shadows.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra