Max & Olive: The Photographic life of Olive Cotton & Max Dupain
National Gallery of Australia Travelling exhibition
12 May – 9 July 2017
This is the first exhibition to look at the work of key photographers Olive Cotton and Max Dupain as they shared their lives, studio and professional practice. Looking at their work together between 1934 and 1945 is instructive; they were often shooting the same subjects, or pursuing subjects and pictorial effects in similar ways. Comparisons articulate Dupain's more structured – even abstracted – approach to art and to the world and Cotton's more immersive relationship to place, with a particularly deep and instinctual love of light and its ephemeral effects.
This exhibition focuses on the key period in each of their careers, when they made many of their most memorable images. Cotton and Dupain experimented with the forms and strategies of international modernist photography, especially Surrealism and the Bauhaus, and drew upon the sophisticated lighting and compositions of contemporary advertising and Hollywood glamour photography. Yet, they developed their own contemporary Australian photography reflecting the rich context of Australian life and culture during the 1930s and '40s.
Image: Max Dupain, Sunbaker 1937 (detail), gelatin silver photograph printed c.1975, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Gift of the Philip Morris Arts Grant 1982