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Wet hair

printed 1999


Ian Dodd


1937 -


Ian Dodd has described his work as 'exploring the magic and the real, the human, erotic and eccentric'.1 He is a Sydney-based photographer whose work has become iconic, especially ‘Wet hair’, which has been reproduced extensively and was regarded as one of the most important images of Australian photography from the 1970s. Dodd, like Robert Besanko, is inspired by the magic of everyday life and with how to depict this otherworldliness in black-and-white photography. In addition, Dodd’s practice has a relationship to the work of New Zealand photographer Peter Peryer, who is also able to make the ordinary unusual in a subtle and poetic way.

‘Wet hair’ and ‘White peacock’ 1994 (AGNSW collection) are potent images that reveal the inherent mystery in the things around us. From a close-up view of dark wet hair on a woman’s white neck as it coils and weaves like marbled ink on a page, to a dazzling peacock’s display that appears in an electric shock of black and white, Dodd delights in the imaginative potential and beauty of his subject. He has an eye for unusual detail, particularly striking pattern and textures of natural and random occurrence. The uncontrived nature and familiarity of his subjects seems incongruous with the dramatically beautiful and intense appearance they make in his work. It is not that their exquisite beauty is unknown to the viewer, but that by recording such moments with the impact and wonder of first sight, Dodd unsettles the element of familiarity, reinstating and sustaining their fascination and magic by the transformative power of the black-and-white image.

1. National Gallery of Australia 1994, ‘On the edge: Australian photographers of the seventies from the collection of the National Gallery of Australia; Philip Morris Arts Grant’, San Diego Museum of Art, California p 76

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



printed 1999

Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


print no.2


13.8 x 9.0 cm image; 25.2 x 20.3 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated c. verso, pencil "...1974/ ...November 1999/ .../ Ian Dodd ...".
Signed l.r. sheet, ink "Ian Dodd".


Purchased with funds provided by Anthony Bertini, Sydney 2000


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Ian Dodd

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Magical realism, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 Feb 2006–02 Apr 2006

Referenced in 1 publication


Judy Annear, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Magical realism', pg.226-245, Sydney, 2007, 239 (illus.).