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Collection

An image of Untitled (New York City skyline) by George James Morris

George James Morris

(Australia 1884 – 1959)

Title
Untitled (New York City skyline)
Year
1936
Media category
Photograph
Materials used
bromoil transfer
Dimensions

24.8 x 31.3 cm image; 40.7 x 44.1 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed l.r. sheet, pencil "George J. Morris". Not dated.
Credit
Gift of Mrs Eleanor Morris 1977
Accession number
89.1977
Location
Not on display
Further information

George Morris was born in Sydney and studied at East Sydney Technical College. He operated an engraving business and in 1920 travelled overseas to further his knowledge of engraving and photo-reproduction processes, visiting England, Germany and America where he spent time at the Eastman Kodak head office. A further overseas trip was made in 1936. In 1925 he became a member of the Sydney Camera Circle and began exhibiting regularly with the circle, as well as with the Photographic Society of New South Wales. He established a commercial studio in the late 1920s and later became a partner in Ramsay Photo Works.

This photograph of the New York skyline has a cinematic quality, suggestive of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film ‘Metropolis’. Morris exhibited some of his overseas pictures as enormous bromoil transfers (measuring 100 x 60 centimetres), probably the largest ever made in Australia. In ‘Untitled (New York City skyline)’ it is clear that he is concerned with conveying a sense of the scale of New York, that great symbol of modernity and progress. He manages this in a skilful, tonal way. The Empire State Building dissolves into the clouds. Alfred Stieglitz, early exponent and champion of pictorialism in America, had written:
atmosphere is the medium through which we see all things … Atmosphere softens all lines; it graduates the transition from light to shade; it is essential to the reproduction of the sense of distance. That dimness of outline which is characteristic for distant objects is due to atmosphere. Now, what ‘atmosphere’ is to Nature, tone is to a picture.1

1. Stieglitz A 1892, ‘A plea for art photography in America’, in Bunnell P C 1980, ‘A photographic vision: pictorial photography 1889–1923’, Peregrine Smith Inc, Salt Lake City p 24

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

Bibliography (2)

Steven Miller, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian pictorialism', pg.71-91, Sydney, 2007, 89 (illus.).

Gael Newton, Australian Pictorial Photography, Melbourne, 1979, 21. cat.no. 87

Exhibition history (1)

Australian Pictorial Photography: