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Title

Two forms


Artist

Max Dupain

Australia

22 Apr 1911 - 27 Jul 1992


About

This photograph relates conceptually to Dupain’s experiments with photographs of nudes. According to the vitalist philosophies of the time, the spiralling rounded shell being shaped by nature is feminine, while the hard metallic tool is man-made and represents the masculine principle. Photographed on a plain surface and lit with raking light, the sense of space is ambiguous. Dupain retained an interest in still-lifes throughout his career, returning to them particularly towards the end of his life. In the 1930s his most well-known still-life was ‘Shattered intimacy’ 1936 (AGNSW collection) where an image of broken glass and a broken classical statue has been solarised, producing a powerful narrative. ‘Two forms’ is a more contemplative image as the shell and the head of a hammer lie side by side and are of similar scale. Interestingly, the two forms are distant from each other, rather than close together, and their scale gives them equality. It is not known whether Dupain necessarily subscribed to the contemporaneous anxiety about the ‘new woman’, but certainly one can read this image as an examination of difference.

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007


Details


Dates

1939
printed 1970s


Media category

Photograph


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


Dimensions

50.2 x 38.4 cm image/sheet; 63.0 x 48.6 cm original board


Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. image and u.c. verso original board, pencil "Max Dupain '39".


Credit

Purchased 1976


Location

Not on display


Accession number

117.1976


Artist information

Max Dupain

Works in the collection

344


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history


Referenced in 4 publications

Bibliography


Judy Annear, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian modernism', pg.131-149, Sydney, 2007, 136, 139 (illus.).

Judy Annear, The Enigmatic Object, Sydney, 1997.

Gael Newton, Max Dupain retrospective 1930-1980, Sydney, 1980. catalogue no: 43

Ursula Prunster, Seeing is believing: the art in photography, Sydney, 1985. catalogue no: 15