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Australian art


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circa 1955, printed later


Max Wilson


Aug 1925 - 19 Jul 1997


Max Wilson was a freelance journalist and photographer who started his career in the 1940s. He worked as a photographer in the Navy during the Second World War and from 1949 to 1955 as a photographer in government departments. He started writing for the ‘Australasian Photo-Review’ at this time and became a member of the Sydney Camera Club. Wilson became an active writer, lecturer and judge during the 1950s and 1960s. He wrote for the ‘Bulletin’, the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ and ‘Australian Photography’ among other publications. His principal activity was industrial photography and he was a pioneer in colour photography and printing.

‘Vortex’ is a highly modern image whose forms imply both graceful movement and tension. At first glance the image seems to be of a natural form such as a nautilus shell, however closer inspection reveals the form to be made up of a series of interleaved dinner plates, swirling around a central metal circle. The off-centre alignment of the image gives a greater strength to the flow and curve of the lines in the lower half which accentuates the feeling of movement around the circle and into the centre of the void. A strong graphic element is provided by the grid in the centre of the void, which adds regulated lines to balance the circular effect of the plates.

It is not known if ‘Vortex’ was a commercial commission or a personal experiment with modernist forms.

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



circa 1955, printed later

Media category


Materials used

gelatin silver photograph


34.3 x 28.4 cm image/sheet

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of Max Wilson 1980


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Max Wilson

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Judy Annear, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'Australian modernism', pg.131-149, Sydney, 2007, 147 (illus.).

Natasha Bullock (Curator), Soft shadows and sharp lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Sydney, 2002. no pagination or catalogue numbers