(New Zealand, Australia 1878–1953)
27.9 x 21.3cm image/sheet; 29.7 x 23.0cm card
‘The bamboo blind’ is a breakthrough work in Cazneaux’s oeuvre. It is the first portrait he made that plays with the interaction between the bright Australian sunlight and the human subject. ‘The bamboo blind’ was taken a year before Cazneaux and others set up the Sydney Camera Circle in order to move pictorialism out of its dark European tones and into an effect which had more in common with Australian light.1 The subject is Cazneaux’s daughter Beryl and there are two extant versions of the image – one with the girl smiling and this one in the collection of the AGNSW. The smiling version appeared in the first issue of ‘The Hom’e magazine in 1920 where Cazneaux was official photographer until 1941.
Despite his financial dependence on commercial photography throughout his working life, Cazneaux was determined to further photography as an art form. He was a relentless innovator in relation to pictorialism, perfecting the difficult pictorialist techniques and applying them to the Australian context. The marriage of pictorialist values with early modernism in ‘The bamboo blind’ reveals what became Cazneaux’s signature style. As Gael Newton has pointed out, this was probably accidental given the limited exposure Australian photographers had to modernist developments originating in the northern hemisphere.2 However, a break with the past had occurred and Australia, through Cazneaux, developed a unique photographic style.
1. Newton G 1988, 'Shades of light: photography and Australia 1839–1988', Australian National Gallery, Canberra/Collins Australia, Sydney p 92
2. Newton G 1979, 'Australian pictorial photography', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney p 4
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
'Harold Cazneaux: artist in photography' by Natasha Bullock, pg.28-31, Look Jun 2008, Jun 2008, 28 (illus.), 31.
7079 (Editor), Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 2007, 19, 27 (illus.).
Gael Newton (Australia) (Author), Project 7: Harold Cazneaux 1878 - 1953, Sydney, 1975. cat.no. 12
Valerie Hill (Australia) (Author), The Cazneaux Women, St Leonards, 2000, 22, 42, 49 (illus.), 75, 123.
Natasha Bullock (Australia) (Curator), Soft Shadows and Sharp Lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Domain, 2002. no pagination or catalogue numbers
Project 7 - Harold Cazneaux: 1878 - 1953 (1975), Art Gallery of New South Wales, 30 Aug 1975–28 Sep 1975.
Harold Cazneaux, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 22 Dec 1989–11 Mar 1990.
Soft Shadows and Sharp Lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 30 Sep 2002–17 Nov 2002.