Max DUPAIN, Surreal portrait for the Home; Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 1992

Surreal portrait for the Home
"Metaphysical compensation between fire and water" (Diane Dupain)
1938 Description: surrealist portrait of Diane Dupain from a series in 'The Home' magazine 2 June 1938
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: titled recto, l.l., pen, "Diane Dupain"; not signed dated verso, u.c., pen, "5/About 1937"
Dimensions: printed image 37.6 h x 30.4 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1982
Accession No: NGA 82.1083
Subject: Australia, Art style: Surrealism
  • the artist;
  • from whom purchased by the National Gallery of Australia, August 1982

While there was no organised surrealist movement in Australia, it is important to note the ways Dupain skilfully deployed surrealist style and motifs in an Australian context. Between 1935 and 1940, most of the advertising photographs published by him in The Home took the appearance of a ‘surrealist photograph’. This portrait of the young debutante Diane Dupain, was one of six published as ‘A gallery of surrealist portraits’ in The Home in June 1938. With its long shadows, mirrors and strange spatial arrangement, Dupain’s tableau invokes, in a very literal way, the paintings of Giorgio de Chirico and Salvador Dali. Dupain also played with surrealist ideas of incongruous juxtaposition. Using photo-montage, he brought together the portrait of the rather bored-looking Miss Dupain, who was his cousin, with fragments of classical and baroque statuary, to produce a version of Surrealism which had its roots as much in Sydney’s North Shore as it did the streets of Paris.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra