Mark Strizic

MS-Flinders-St-station

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.

MS-Macphersons

Mark Strizic, Collins St at MacPhersons Building, 1963

 

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One thought on “Mark Strizic

  1. Thank you for this entry Greg. Strizic’s passing seems to have gone unnoticed in places one would expect to find some comment. I’ve submitted a Wikipedia entry and posted a bio on DAAO http://www.daao.org.au/bio/mark-strizic/biography/? along with a number of his exhibitions,publications and associates. You mention David Saunders – obviously a lynch-pin in Strizic’s meteoric career.

    However it is nigh impossible to find surviving photomurals by Strizic (do you or your readers know the whereabouts of any?). I am sure there was one in the Monash Uni Library, but any institutional memory of it is gone. To me they were more Pop than psychedelic – partaking of Warhol posterisation. Surrealist James Gleeson’s 1973 SMH review of a show of the murals is glowing, but Patrick McCaughey was later scathing about this photographer’s pretensions to fine art (though later still he opened one of Strizic’s shows). Mark spoke about the murals at Werner Hammerstingl’s ‘Still-Photography’ conference (mid-90s) and I wish I could find my notes on the location of the murals and the clients who commissioned them, as well as some of his techniques; he mentioned ‘photochrom’ or ‘photochrome’ and I do remember there was a proprietary vivid colour-coupler system Colorvir (still available in the 80s) that he may have used which imitated the effect of that (laborious) early 1900s litho process.

    From my teenage years I remember Mark producing stunning photo essays for Walkabout (my father was the editor 1960-68); my own impression of his manner was that he was rather dour and aloof – but that may have been his inexperience with children. His compressed-perspective contra-jour shots of stovepipe-panted Melbourne businessmen and ‘office-girls’ in sheath dresses made the city look pretty hip then, and now they are a valuable record of Melbourne’s ‘coming of age’.

    James McArdle

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