Max DUPAIN, The thin man Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 1992

The thin man 1936 Creation Notes: printed 1978; was published in The Home, 2 January 1936: p. 36
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: signed recto, l.r., pencil, "- Max Dupain -" titled recto, l.l., pencil, "The Thin Man"
Dimensions: printed image 39.2 h x 37.9 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1983
Accession No: NGA 83.1349

This landscape – extraordinary for its graphic simplicity, abstraction and complete lack of narrative – ideally expressed Dupain’s notion of a modernist photography indigenous to Australia, a style or set of characteristics that coalesced around his studio and in close association with Cotton. While the shadow cast by the figure standing to the left of the frame (the form of which cuts across the arc created by the footprints) points to Dupain’s interest in Surrealism (and seems to refer directly to Giorgio de Chirico’s famous painting The disquieting muse, praised in the September 1936 issue of Sydney Ure Smith’s magazine The Home), it should also be understood as a realist reflection on the Australian conditions of light. As Dupain later commented, ‘the quality of light here is marvellous, it’s clear without any inhibitions … in contrast to European light it’s brilliant, it casts a great shadow’. This photograph was reproduced in The Home in January 1937.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra