Mangudja, singing his moraiin song, Liverpool River Arnhem Land
England, Australia, England
12 Dec 1906 - 05 Feb 1986
Though not born in Australia, Axel Poignant's work is largely about the 'Outback', its flora and fauna and the traditions of Australian and Indigenous identity. Poignant was born in Yorkshire in 1906 to a Swedish father and English mother, and arrived in Australia in 1926 seeking work and adventure. After tough early years of unemployment and homelessness, he eventually settled in Perth and found work as a portrait photographer, before taking to the road and the bush in search of new subjects. Poignant became fascinated with the photo-essay as a means of adding real humanity to the medium, and much of his work is in this form. The close relationships he developed with Aboriginal people on his travels are recorded in compassionate portraits of these people and their lives - the low angles and closely cropped frames appear more natural and relaxed than the stark compositions of earlier ethnographic photography.
gelatin silver photograph
32.8 x 28.3 cm image; 40.6 x 35.6 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. sheet, pencil "Axel Poignant 1980". Dated l.c. sheet, pencil "...1952".
Not on display
© Courtesy Roslyn Poignant
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Referenced in 3 publications
Josef Lebovic Gallery and Helen Ennis, Masterpieces of Australian Photography, Twentieth Century Photography, Sydney, 1989, 182, 183 (illus.). cat.no. 328
Robert McFarlane, Critic's Choice, Sydney, 1994.
Gael Newton, Edmund Capon AM, OBE and Hal Missingham, Axel Poignant retrospective, Sydney, 1982. cat.no. 67