DUPAIN, Maxwell Spencer OBE (1911-1992)

Max Dupain in 1938
Photo taken by Geoffrey Powell
Max Dupain is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest photographers. He stressed simplicity and directness in his work, creating images of sharp focus, boldness and graphic composition. He was one of the earliest and most outstanding champions of modernism in Australia.

At 13 years of age, Dupain was given his first camera, and quickly developed an avid interest in photography. He won the Carter Memorial Prize for Productive Use of Spare Time in 1928, and joined the NSW Photographic Society a year later. In 1930, Dupain commenced a three-year apprenticeship with Sydney photographer Cecil Bostock. He learned the techniques of early studio photography, discipline and a rigorous attention to detail.

Dupain’s working life spans decades of commercial and artistic success, and photographic genres. His repertoire includes landscapes, beaches, nudes, still life and architecture. He was regarded as the pre-eminent photographer of Australian architecture for more than 50 years, but Dupain is best known for his photographs of Australians, particularly their beach culture.

Dupain married Diana Illingworth, a social worker, in 1946 and in 1949 they commissioned architect Arthur Baldwinson to design their home in The Scarp, Castlecrag. They moved into their new home in 1953 and Dupain remained here for the rest of his life. He made an extensive photographic record of Castlecrag’s natural heritage and architecture in the 1960s, particularly the houses designed by Walter Burley Griffin. In 1971 Dupain moved to a new studio in Artarmon and he worked from here during his remaining 20 years. He was awarded an OBE for his outstanding services to photography in 1981. He donated a significant proportion of his Castlecrag photographs to the Walter Burley Griffin Society.

Further Reading

1 Esther Leslie, The suburb of Castlecrag: a community history. Chatswood, Willoughby Municipal Council, 1998, pp. 143-145.

2 Max Dupain. http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/max-dupain