2019 Darkroom Dinner Auction Items
House of Professor Benjamin in Canberra, architect Alex Jelinek 1958
gelatin silver print 40.1 x 50.9 cm
donated by Julian Burnside AO QC on behalf of the Estate of Wolfgang Sievers
reproduction courtesy of National Library of Australia Pictures Branch
edition: uneditioned, inscribed and signed verso
Wolfgang Sievers (1913–2007) was born in Germany and trained at a private art school in Berlin, where he was steeped in modernist ideals of social progress through functional design. He fled Nazi Germany in 1937 and migrated to Australia in 1938, establishing a studio in Melbourne that specialised in industrial and architectural photography. He is most well-known for documenting Australian industry during the post-war period in a way that celebrates the relationship between man and machine. He is part of a generation of émigré artists and intellectuals that enriched Australian culture with their European training and cosmopolitan values.
This photograph is an important example of Sievers’s architectural photography, highlighting his use of modernist photographic principles. It shows The Benjamin House, which is situated in the Canberra suburb of Deakin. Also known as Round House, the building was designed by the Czechoslovakian architect, Alex Jelinek and completed in 1957. The house is now considered to be a nationally significant example of mid-twentieth century architecture in Australia.
This photograph is held in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra as well as the National Library of Australia, Canberra. The print being auctioned has been signed, dated and inscribed by Sievers.