The photographic work of Max Dupain (1911-1992) ranged across advertising, fashion, portraiture, still life and architecture. He lived and worked in Sydney all his life: his work pictured people and place in that city from the late 1930s until his death in 1992. Max preferred to work in black and white using medium and large format film cameras. He had no time for anything “automatic” in a camera that entailed a diminution of control over light and tone. Dupain’s Christmas cards in the 1980s are little gems of the still-life picture. The perfectly printed 1982 card (112mm wide x 127mm high) is an axially composed multiple exposure of sub-tropical plant forms against a black background. I’m not entirely sure but it may not be a double exposure but actually a double-double exposure.
The 1985-86 card (115mm wide x 156mm high) is a composed still life of sea shells looking too clean to have been fresh from the ocean. The shells are central to the picture but suggest non-axial movement upwards and to the left top corner. The sand, reflecting a shallow depth of field, is out-of-focus in front of and behind the two shells. The eye is drawn to the impossible perfection of those two shells and to the spiraling volume of the larger one.