Friday, March 23, 2007

Olive Cotton (1911-2003) - Another Australian Photographer

Olive Cotton is an under-rated and under-exposed Australian photographer who worked from the 1930’s on. The influences on her photography are numerous, including that of her one-time partner, Max Dupain (see my post ‘Max Dupain (1911-1992) – Australian Photographer’, Wednesday, February 14, 2007):

Olive Cotton 'Max after surfing'

Dupain in turn photographed Cotton, as a lover would do:

Max Dupain 'Only to taste the warmth, the light, the wind' (1939)

Olive Cotton photographed by Max Dupain

Cotton’s work itself often has reference to art history, such as interiors with resonances with C17 Dutch interiors in their similar tangible quality of air and lighting in internal spaces …

Olive Cotton

Vermeer Interior

... and her still lives, such as her ‘Teacup Ballet’ (1935) and ‘Glasses’ (1937) that reflect the deco formalism of her fellow country woman Margaret Preston, among others:

Olive Cotton 'Teacup Ballet' (1935)

Olive Cotton 'Glasses' (1937)

Margaret Preston 'Implement Blue' (1927)

Cotton in her turn influenced others. ‘Plum Blossom’ (1937) and similar examples had things to say to later floral photographers, such as Mapplethorpe:

Olive Cotton ‘Plum Blossom’ (1937)


There is a masterly sense of composition, balance and lighting in Olive Cotton’s oeuvre– a sure touch that leaves the viewer totally satisfied. There is nothing small or awkward or indecisive. And all this, without being too pushed or self-conscious:

Olive Cotton 'The Sleeper' (1939) - Her friend Olga Sharp

Bet Olive was a very determined kind off person!!!

1 comment:

  1. Nick,

    Most of the Cotton photos aren't visible on your blog. you've whetted my curiosity. Do something!