Even though Hoppé
became a British citizen in 1912, like Bill Brandt who followed
him, he was still something of an outsider in his adopted home.
Perhaps this enabled Hoppé to see Australia more for what
it really was. Clearly he didn't adopt the view of Australia
held by his more skeptical British advisors. Hoppé energetically
travelled throughout the entire continent from Cape York to Tasmania,
Sydney to Perth, Coober Pedy to the flooded Finke River creating
the first transcontinental photobook portrait of Australia.
The importance of this
epic document is described by Gael Newton, Senior Curator of
Photography at the National Gallery of Australia, who cites Hoppé's
achievement as one that "shows great sensitivity and insight
into Australia's people at a defining moment in the country's
history. Perhaps more than any other earlier travelling photographer
of the period, Hoppé was genuinely taken by Australia
and its people.
He showed a young Australia,
distinct in its national character and strong in its identification
with the land, be they European or Asian settlers, or its native
As a German-born citizen
of the UK, Hoppé had great enthusiasm for the open and
democratic life in Australia, where to many Europeans the average
person still seemed to have a chance to "make good."
Hoppé captured the country's inclusiveness, intimately
express ed in his photographs of people-Coober Pedy opal miners,
wool packers, Aboriginal tribes, rural farmers, and city workers-in
their native environs. The collection of images is one of the
most comprehensive collective portraits of Australia during these
Gael Newton goes on to
explain, "Hoppé's views of Australia combined the
topographic and social documentary paradigm with a profoundly
modernist vision, which became the major photographic ideology
in the 1930s. Where now-renowned figures such as the American
photographer Walker Evans contended with the gap between rich
and poor in the U.S., Hoppé embraced a nation that seemed
free of such a disparity."
By Graham Howe
1 Correspondence to Graham Howe, dated 13th April,