Abstract Photography: Re-evaluating Visual Poetics in Australian Modernism and Contemporary Practice
by Gary Sauer-Thompson & Adam Dutkiewicz
Moon Arrow Press, 2016
ISBN 9780992434854 (pbk)
ISBN 9780992434847 (hbk)
In 2014 the Monash Gallery of Art presented an exhibition titled Photographic Abstractions that toured regional galleries in Victoria into the following year.
It included a number of contemporary photographers, but the artists who were included from before c.1970 were John Cato (1926–2011), Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski (1922–1994), Wolfgang Sievers (1913–2007), Mark Strizic (1928–2012) and David Moore (1927–2003). The abstract effects the curators were interested in materialised through various techniques and approaches that challenge usual conceptions of photography and proposed a “photographic language” less concerned with documentation and more with sensual experience, triggering the imagination and questioning the way we look at life and our world. The photographers’ methods entailed cropping their images, employing unorthodox points of view, and focusing on formal and textural elements. Some even used experimental means to achieve their imagery, such as scanners or electronics, or they manipulated the photographic emulsion, or devised means of montage, with multiple exposures or collage. This range of approaches is also the focus of this monograph, which explores the obscured tradition of abstract photography in Adelaide c.1950−75.
GARY SAUER-THOMPSON presents work from his own series and writes two essays contextualising the subject and interpreting its reception in Adelaide and elsewhere.
ADAM DUTKIEWICZ researches the unexplored tradition of post-war abstract photography in Adelaide, and brings into the light the main practitioners: Stanislaw Ostoja-Kotkowski, Ian Davidson, Dušan Marek, Ludwik Dutkiewicz, John Dallwitz, Jan Dalman, Peter Medlen and Stephanie Schrapel.
Abstract photography offers a means of expression in itself and now constitutes a significant tool in the repertoire of many contemporary photographers and artists. In this book its development as an idiom is examined through a regional focus that points to its universal appeal.