W.W. Norton, New York, May 2007
W.W. Norton, New York, May 2007
E.O. Hoppé's Australia:
Book Release and Sydney Exhibition
Hoppé's Australia photographs shown in Sydney for the first time in seventy-six years, accompanied by the release of a publication of a 216-page monograph of the same title by W.W. Norton with an essay by Graham Howe and Erika Esau.
The exhibition opened on the 11th of May, 2007, at the Customs House in Sydney. Eighty vintage photographs were presented from this epic body of work that is the first comprehensive nationwide photo-documentation of Australia and Australians.
As one of the best attended exhibitions in the history of the Customs House, E.O. Hoppé's Australia drew wide aclaim from the media and the gallery audience, who wrote over 400 remarks in praise of these important and previously unknown photographic documents of Australian life.
On the 10th of June, 2007, a panel discussion was held at Customs House where several of Australia's leading curators, critics, and historians reviewed different aspects of the Hoppé Australia photographs and deemed the collection a national treasure. Panel members included Caroline Butler-Bowdon, Head Curator, Museum of Sydney; Dr. Shirley Fitzgerald, Historian, City of Sydney; Graham Howe, Director, E.O. Hoppé Estate and Curatorial Assistance, Los Angeles; Dr. Martyn Jolly, Head PhotoMedia, Australian National University, School of Art, Canberra; Robert McFarlane, Photography Critic, Sydney Morning Herald; and Gael Newton, Senior Curator of Australian Photography, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
Background on E.O. Hoppé
German-born British photographer Emil Otto Hoppé (1878-1972) was the most celebrated portrait and topographic photographer of the Modern era. Contemporaneous with Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, and Walker Evans, Hoppé was described by British photographer Cecil Beaton simply as “The Master.” His now rare photographic books from the 1920s and 30s on America, Great Britain, and Germany—classics in photographic literature—show Hoppé’s pioneering Modernist style that was largely formative and influential in the practice of photographic art in the first half of the twentieth century.
Hoppé studied portrait photography in Paris and Vienna before moving to live in London in 1900. In 1907, after winning first prize in a contest sponsored by the London newspaper the Daily Mail, Hoppé left banking to open a portrait studio in London’s Baron’s Court. His photographs of arts celebrities such as Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, A.A. Milne, T.S. Eliot, G.K. Chesterton, Leon Bakst, Vaslav Nijinsky and the dancers of the Ballets Russes quickly earned him the reputation as the top celebrity photographer in London. His passion for street photography and his pioneering efforts in photographic art, along with his naturalistic studies, were widely celebrated in the US, Britain, and Europe. In 1913 he expanded his studio to the Kensington house of the late painter Sir John Millias, occupying all thirty-three rooms with his burgeoning operation.
By 1919 Hoppé tired of his work and sought travel to foreign countries to photograph self-assigned subjects. His large-format gravure-printed photographic books about “Fair Women” (1922), Great Britain (1926), the United States (1927), Germany (1930 and 1932), Australia (1931), and India (1935) were likely to have influenced his contemporaries.