Australia 1911 – 1992
(Nude on ribbed sand) [(Nude on sand hill)] 1938 Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph
Dupain photographed the human body extensively throughout the mid- to late-1930s. He was influenced in part by vitalist theories espoused by his father George, a well-known physical educator in Sydney who established the Dupain Institute of Physical Education with Olive Cotton’s uncle, Max Cotton. Vitalism argued that humanity was constituted in the body, not through technology or knowledge, and that the human life force should be unlocked through an unimpeded experience of nature and other life forces. Dupain was frank about his motivations for his pictures of the body uninhibited by the trappings of convention or modern industrialism: ‘I was very keen to study the idea of naked flesh in the Australian sunshine’. In the context of art photography at the time, Dupain’s studies of naked bodies lying on the sand without any overtly erotic or sentimental associations, were unusual.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra