John Kauffmann was born in South Australia and trained in the office of architect John Harry Grainger. After attending art classes conducted by H.P. Gill, he travelled to London in 1887 where he studied photochemistry. In the early 1890s Kauffmann came into contact with the work of art photographers H. P. Robinson and Alfred Horsley-Hinton. He then studied intensively in Europe before returning to Adelaide in 1897.
On his return, Kauffmann joined the South Australian Photographic Society and exhibited his work in Sydney and Adelaide - his work was very favourably received. In 1909 Kauffmann moved to Melbourne and in 1910 he held a large solo exhibition at the Victorian Photographic Association. The first Australian photographic monograph was published on the work of Kauffmann in 1919.
Harold Cazneaux always referred to Kauffmann as Australia's pioneer pictorialist, though by the 1920s Kauffmann's work was falling out of favour because of its dark and misty aspect. Nonetheless, in terms of both technique and composition Kauffmann has remained Australia's most important art photographer of the early 20th century.
21.2 x 29.6 cm image/sheet; 25.3 x 32.2 cm card
Signature & date
Signed l.r. image, ink "J Kauffmann". Not dated.
Gift of John Bilney 1979
Not on display
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Australian Pictorial Photography:
- S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks 12 Jun 1979–08 Jul 1979
- The Victorian College of the Arts Gallery, South Bank 08 Aug 1979–31 Aug 1979
- Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 01 Dec 1979–30 Jan 1980
Soft Shadows and Sharp Lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Sep 2002–17 Nov 2002
Modernism/Japonism in photography 1920s-1940s: Ishida Kiichiro and the Sydney Camera Circle, Museum of Sydney, Sydney, 20 Dec 2003–25 Apr 2004
Australian Symbolism, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 May 2012–22 Jul 2012
Referenced in 3 publications
Natasha Bullock (Curator), Soft shadows and sharp lines: Australian photography from Cazneaux to Dupain, Sydney, 2002, (illus.). no catalogue numbers
Denise Mimmocchi, Australian Symbolism: the art of dreams, ‘Artful atmospheres: Symbolism and photography’, pg. 123-136, Sydney, 2012, 126, 128 (colour illus.), 144.
Gael Newton, Australian Pictorial Photography, Melbourne, 1979, 11 (illus.), 19. cat.no. 57