Mark Strizic, Flinders St Station, c1962
The great Melbourne photographer Mark Strizic has died at age 84.
Strizic was born in Berlin in 1928 and migrated to Australia in 1950, part of that immigrant wave to the new world from an exhausted Europe. He became a photographer of Melbourne, recording its modernist architecture for clients like Robin Boyd, but also its Victorian streets and buildings. This trove of poetic imagery, shot with his favoured graphic compositions in contre-jour light, is a visual memorial to a once beautiful city, carelessly sacrificed to developers in the 1960s and 70s.
According to my parents Strizic used to visit our neighbour, the architectural historian David Saunders, in Bentleigh in the 1950s and as a child I would play with him there. I don’t remember, which is a pity since his photographs identify for me a particular Melbourne of nostalgic memory and longing, a dream city from childhood. As a body of work they represent a distinct vision of a place, made by an outsider, using distinct formal means.
In later years, Strizic switched to a highly experimental project in colour photography, perhaps inspired by Moholy-Nagy’s modernism. I once referred to it in an Age newspaper review as “psychedelic” and received an angry letter from him. Perhaps I should have done more homework before, but his earlier work on Melbourne, and his excellent portraits of leading Australians, remain his legacy, both as a body of photographic work, and as history.
Mark Strizic, Collins St at MacPhersons Building, 1963