Dupain, Maxwell Spencer (1911–1992) By Ennis, Helen
Australian photographer Max Dupain distinguished himself as a professional and artistic presence from the 1930s well into the 1970s. His earliest works were in the Pictorialist style, but by the mid-1930s he had become an ardent modernist—using sharp focus, bold and geometric compositions, and contemporary subject matter. Dupain was strongly influenced by vitalist philosophy, the work of Australian artist Norman Lindsay, the photography of Man Ray, Margaret Bourke-White, and Edward Steichen, as well as writer D.H. Lawrence.
The son of Ena and George Dupain, Max Dupain lived in Sydney his entire life. He joined the studio of Cecil Bostock in 1930, taking night classes at East Sydney Technical College and the Julian Ashton School of Art. In 1934 he opened his own studio and quickly established his reputation in fashion, advertising, and celebrity portraiture. After World War II he reoriented his practice towards industry and government assignments, favoring a documentary approach. During the 1960s and 1970s, he specialized in architectural photography. Dupain’s photography is distinguished by its physicality and embrace of Australian sunlight and conditions (as seen in Sunbaker, his best-known work). He also regularly wrote on photography, contributing spirited reviews to the Sydney Morning Herald. His work was widely exhibited and published and is held in numerous public collections.