Max Dupain's Sunbaker

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade July 2001

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"˜Sunbaker' is Max Dupain's most famous artwork. It was taken in 1937. It is not just an artwork but it is an Australian icon because it represents what Australia is.

Description The photo is a famous image of the shapely male shoulders of a European man lying on Bondi Beach. Dupain used a low viewpoint to take the photo so that only the figure's head, broad shoulders and well muscled arms are revealed.

Mood/Emotions Evoked The mood it creates is a very patriotic one which would fill most Australians with a sense of national pride. Most Australian's spend a lot of their time at the beach so looking at the artwork reminds people of how much fun they have at the beach and how this makes them happy.

Messages/Ideas Just like most modernist art, this photograph too is multilayered with meaning and insight.

The obvious meaning being the fact that the young strong surfer stretched out in the sand sunbaking represents Australian's affinity with the out doors and the importance of sport and physical activity in our culture.

It symbolizes health, vitality and a celebration of the physical life we lead in Australia. The photo was taken in Bondi beach which is Australia's most famous beach and it is an icon by itself.

The notion of Australian 'nation-ness' was depicted in a white male metaphor at the turn of the century - an urban myth of origin about 'the little boy from Bondi', a cartoon character representing the infant nation at the time of the federation of the colonial States in 1901. In the spirit of that myth, the little boy is all grown up in "˜Sunbaker'. So this artwork may be considered a metaphor for Australia as a country. The Australian nation today is...