Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Max Dupain and his house...

Max Dupain

When I studied art for (what seems like) 50 million years I, of course, studied the magnificent work of photographer Max Dupain. He was an iconic Australian artist who captured the very spirit of Australian beach lifestyle, our heritage and created scenes so Australian they still resonate today.

The most famous of his photos would undoubtedly be The Sunbaker, 1937. It's only a small image of it below - I have seen it at exhibition and the detail on his skin is amazing.

The other favourite would be Bondi, 1939.

You can imagine how excited I was to come across an article about his house. I was flicking through a 1956 Home Beautiful mag when the title Max Dupain's House took my breath away. We could look into his world from so long ago...

The following text and photos were taken from the Home Beautiful magazine...

The living room of Max Dupain's house is seperated from the rest of the house, but joined by a roofed terrace. The terrace also serves as an entrance hall. A glass screen forms a wind-break towards the street side. The front door leading to the terrace (the door is open in the pic above) is made of Queensland maple and painted with clear laquer.

For 15 years Sydney photographer Max Dupain has been specialising in taking pictures of modern buildings. There is hardly a house of striking architectural features in Sydney whose special points have not been recorded by Dupain's camera lense. No wonder that Dupain's own home at Castlecrag, Sydney, is one of the most modern homes to come off the drawing boards of Australian architects.

Dupain, a artist among Australian photographers, likes simple forms in architectural designs and abhors ornaments. He asked Sydney architect Arthur Baldwinson to design his home because he was impressed by the simplicity of his style.

Dupains home is perched on the edge of a solid rock and overlooks part of Middle Harbour. "As there was only a narrow ledge between the road and the cliff edge, the building had to be designed to fit into this limited space. This makes its shape a bit irregular," said Baldwinson.

The most prominent 'irregularity' or innovation is you prefer that viewpoint, is the seperation of the living room from the rest of the house. Baldwinson said his client wanted the living room set apart so that the children couldn't be disturbed by his musical events (he has an extensive record library) and the children wouldn't disturb him (a corner of the living room serves as his study). The top picture is the living room at night - the room has an atmosphere of drama and mystery in the evenings when its reading lamp spotlights nearby gum trees. The picture below is the dining room in daylight

Dupain said that the seperate living room gave the open design of his house balance and distinction. The living room projects four feet over the cliff edge and faces south. It's aluminium framed, double hung windows give a grandstand view of a harbour inlet and surrounding bushland.

The walls of the house are of painted bagged brickwork, with the exception of the south wall of the living room which is of tallowwood weatherboard. The top floor, which includes three bedrooms and a bathroom, has a reinforced concrete floor which is surfaced with tallowwood boards.

Max Dupain's house at Castlecrag, Sydney, consists of three sections: the living room, the roofed terrace and the two-storied main building. The design was governed by the unusual site: a narrow ledge between the road and cliff edge. The architect's plans are above.

I would love to know if this house is still standing - anyone out there is blogland who knows this wonderful home?

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