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Title

Untitled (Elizabeth Hamilton Crouch)

1940-1941

Artist

Hans Hasenpflug

Germany, Australia

1907 - 02 Apr 1978

  • Details

    Date
    1940-1941
    Media category
    Photograph
    Materials used
    gelatin silver photograph
    Dimensions
    28.8 x 24.3 cm image; 29.5 x 24.7 cm sheet
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Credit
    Gift of Mr Christopher Hamilton, the artist's son 1984
    Location
    Not on display
    Accession number
    191.1984.1
    Copyright

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Hans Hasenpflug

    Works in the collection

    11

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  • About

    Hans Hasenpflug arrived in Australia in 1927 aged 20. He had been born into an educated Stuttgart family but it does not appear that he became involved in photography until 1932 when he was employed by Leica Photo Service, Sydney. Hasenpflug went on to work for prominent photographer Russell Roberts from 1935 to 1937 before moving to Melbourne and working with Athol Shmith and other Melbourne studios from 1937 to 1942. As an enemy alien Hasenpflug was not allowed to work on industrial assignments during World War Two but he was not interned and was naturalised in 1945. Hasenpflug exhibited in photography salons in the 1930s and his work appeared in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, ‘Australian Woman's Weekly’ and the ‘Sunday Telegraph’.

    Hasenpflug was a versatile advertising photographer. He specialized in fashion and product advertising and some portraiture. Despite his apparent lack of photographic training until the 1930s, he seems to be have been strongly influenced by the European avant-garde. Many of his photographs, regardless of genre or subject matter, depend on diagonals through the picture plane and on raking light.

    This is true of ‘Untitled’. Strong light has created deep shadows across the subject, a closely cropped image of a woman’s face. This, combined with the oblique camera angle, creates a vivid and disconcerting image. The woman is staring directly into the camera, yet a band of strong shadow across the centre of the image creates a blank eyed effect. The pupil free eyes seem inhuman; mask-like or alien. This is in stark contrast to the woman’s open smile that dominates the bottom of the work. The strong, full light on this area highlights her lips, gums and teeth to an almost hyper real extent. These contradictions create an image that on the surface seems friendly and intimate, yet contains an undertone of threat. The inherent strangeness of the image makes it unlikely that this was a commissioned photograph, but rather the artist’s experiment with his medium, and indeed is probably a portrait of his fiancee, Elizabeth Hamilton Crouch.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 5 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 3 publications

Other works by Hans Hasenpflug

See more works