Go back in time to Max Dupain’s Anzac Square, Brisbane


In 1928 a competition for the design of a Shrine of Remembrance (illustrated) in Brisbane was won by Sydney architects Buchanan and Cowper. Construction proceeded over the following two years with Anzac Square opening on Armistice Day in 1930. The Shrine honours the men and women of Queensland who served abroad and at home in conflict and peacekeeping.


The winning design for the Anzac Memorial in Brisbane from the scrap-book of Elizabeth Eugenie Cowper-Field 1908-92 / Courtesy: Trove, National Library of Australia and John Cowper

Armistice Day commemorates the agreement that ended the First World War on 11 November 1918 at 11am — on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month — and the Brisbane Memorial specifically honours that year with 18 Doric columns supporting a circular entablature externally ornamented with rosettes and internally inscribed with the names of battlefields where Australian soldiers fought.

The Shrine of Remembrance and Eternal Flame, Anzac Square / 23478025 / Courtesy: National Library of Australia

The State Memorial, located in the centre of Brisbane, with the Shrine of Remembrance and Eternal Flame burning in a bronze urn at its heart offers a place to reflect on the commitment, bravery and sacrifice of those who came before us. Beneath the Shrine, the Anzac Square Memorial Galleries housed in the crypt delve into Queensland’s military history.

Anzac Square during construction

Anzac Square during construction, 21 August 1929 / DID25960 / Courtesy: Queensland State Archives
Anzac Square in late construction phase c.1930 / DID26765 / Courtesy: Queensland State Archives

Anzac Square completed

Anzac Square completed / DID27035 / Courtesy: Queensland State Archives

Anzac Day service c.1940-45

Anzac Day service at Anzac Square c.1940 / 7708-0001-0106 / Image courtesy: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Brisbane

Max Dupain

Max Dupain always had a particular interest in photographing architecture, a subject that he considered to be like a ‘giant still life’. Anzac Square c.1940-45 (illustrated) is an important addition to the Gallery’s holdings of his work, the aerial view of the square transforms the scene from a literal one into an abstraction of forms, light and shadow. Anzac Square employs a motif that is evident throughout Dupain’s work, that of the lone male figure. Sometimes this lone figure can be identified even in a crowd, as in this work.

Dupain most frequently stressed that it was his quest for simplicity that was the particular quality in the subjects he chose to present. His goals were for simplicity but his aesthetic was complex in its understanding of how it actuality related to the wider notions of the documentary movement, which had a considerable impact on still photographers in the late 1940s

Max Dupain

Self portrait c.1940 / Photograph: Max Dupain / IE14164701 / Courtesy: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Max Dupain ‘Anzac Square’

Max Dupain, Australia 1911-92 / Anzac Square c.1940-45, printed 1992 / Gelatin silver photograph on paper / 40.7 x 39cm (comp.) / Purchased 1992 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Max Dupain/Copyright Agency

Max Dupain ‘War memorial, Brisbane’

Max Dupain, Australia 1911-92 / War memorial, Brisbane c.1940-45 / IE19457154 / Courtesy: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Max Dupain ‘Anzac Square, Brisbane’

Max Dupain, Australia 1911-92 / Anzac Square, Brisbane c.1940-45 / IE19456868 / Courtesy: Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Additional research and supplementary material by Elliott Murray, Senior Digital Marketing Officer, QAGOMA

Featured image detail: Max Dupain Anzac Square c.1940-45