A new exhibition of photographs of the Sydney Opera House reveals the hidden beauty of the building, captured 50 years ago by the eminent Australian photojournalist David Moore.
The 26 black-and-white prints span nine years of construction, from 1962 to 1973 and opens at Customs House, Circular Quay, tomorrow.
Moore was 35 when he began clambering over the nascent building with his 35mm camera. After Jørn Utzon lost his fight with the NSW Government and left Sydney, never to return, Moore sent his photos to the Danish architect, who replied in admiration, saying they were “by far the best I have ever seen”.
“‘The Sydney Opera House needs to be seen with a great artist’s eye such as yours to make people understand the [building’s] poetic qualities,” he wrote in thanks to the photographer.
Moore’s playfulness with light brings the concrete substructures a voice and unexpected beauty. Then there are men, photographed dangling, almost carefree, high above the Sydney skyline in a manner that would give modern safety inspectors paroxysms.
Utzon’s son, Jan, visiting Sydney as part of the Opera House 40th anniversary celebrations, told Business Insider that the photos gave his father an understanding of the building’s progress after he’d departed. Jørn Utzon never returned to see the completed building and died in 2008.
Moore, himself the son of the eminent architect John D Moore, called the Opera House “a fabulous freestanding sculpture” and had a 60-year career in photojournalism, covering everything from the Queen’s London Coronation to life in outback Australia and in the 1990s, the building of Sydney’s Anzac bridge.
He died in 2003, on the eve of a major retrospective of his work at the Australian National Gallery.
Moore’s daughter, Lisa, who curated the exhibition, said it’s the first time some of the photographs have been seen by the public.
“They reveal the hidden Opera House behind the beautifully polished building we now all enjoy, and the sweat that went into making it,” she said.
“The photographs are arresting, have a purity of vision and focus on the abstract qualities and scale of the human endeavor to construct such a masterpiece.”
Utzon’s grandson, artist Mika Utzon-Popov and architect Richard Leplastrier will hold a free discussion on the David Moore retrospective on November 10, at Customs House, as part of the Sydney Architecture Festival.
The David Moore Sydney Opera House exhibition, on the second floor of Customs House, runs from November 1 until 26 January, 2014. Entry is free.
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