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Meat queue, Sydney

1946, printed later


Max Dupain


22 Apr 1911 – 27 Jul 1992

  • Details

    1946, printed later
    Media category
    Materials used
    gelatin silver photograph
    45.3 x 65.1 cm image/sheet; 52.8 x 72.7 cm board
    Signature & date

    Signed and dated l.r. and u.c. verso board, pencil "Max Dupain '46".

    Purchased 1976
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Max Dupain

    Works in the collection


  • About

    ‘Meat queue, Sydney’ was one in a series of pictures Sydney photographer Max Dupain undertook for the Department of Information. When interviewed by curator Helen Ennis in 1991 Dupain said:
    We were doing a story on queues after the war. They were all over the place – queues for buses, vegetables, fruit. I just happened to come across this butcher shop in Pitt Street, I think it was. Here they were all lined up, and I went around it, took a number of pictures, ultimately ending up with this sort of architectural approach with four of five females all dressed in black with black hats, not looking too happy about the world. Suddenly one of them breaks the queue when I’m focused up all ready to go, pure luck. 1

    The solidity of the linear figures taken from mid distance beneath a meat coupon scale which will weigh a proportion of meat with the allowable coupons democratises the women. The picture is given a sudden focus as the central figure decides to move from the queue and unwanted contact is made with the woman ahead. Described as both a documentary photograph, but not necessarily a social comment, the economic food-rationing of postwar Australia is shown in this clear modernist image of black-and-white shapes in shallow space. Form rather than content defines this image. The central figure in a lighter coloured coat is balanced on either side by the darker coats as the black hats, which make a wave along the horizontal, parallel the line of meat hooks.

    1. Ennis H 1991, ‘Max Dupain: photographs’, Australian National Gallery, Canberra p 18

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

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 7 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 7 publications

Other works by Max Dupain

See all 449 works