We cooperate as an association to advance the practice of sculpture and the reputation and appreciation of sculpture and sculptors in the community. This is regardless of whether or not we make a living from sculpture and regardless of our preferred style or medium. To this end we support artists’ moral rights, we advocate a professional attitude to the production and presentation of work and encourage the artistic and intellectual stimulation of interaction amongst artists of all persuasions.

Robert Klippel at Tarrawarra Museum of Art

On Thursday February 13 a group of us will visit the Robert Klippel exhibition at Tarrawarra Museum of Art. We are hoping for a guided tour - but this may not be realised. We meet at 11am at the gallery. Please contact Gillian Govan 0412 122 884 if you are going to be there so that you can be kept up to date with the arrangements.
Robert Klippel
(Untitled) 1949
pen and brush and ink and gouache on paper
30.8 x 23.4 cm irreg.
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of James Mollison, 1981 © Andrew Klippel.
Courtesy of The Robert Klippel Estate,
represented by Annette Larkin Fine Art,
Sydney and Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich /
Copyright Agency, 2019

The following article was written by Michael Adeney and the images and captions supplied by Tarrawarra Museum of Art.

Robert Klippel (1920-2001) has been described as one of Australia’s most significant sculptors. His creative output, spanning over sixty years, produced some 1,300 sculptures and 5,000 drawings. The intensity of his works explore the relationship between the human-made and the natural world, with works in wood, stone, metal and plastic. His technique has been described as assemblage rather than sculpture and he loved using the inner workings of machines - cogs, sprockets and rods to create organic-machine-like forms. He pursued his work with single minded intensity, often rejecting established style in favour of exploring the new. His journey was a path of struggle and persistence, slowly progressing over decades from Australian art establishment sneer in the 50’s to a Federal Government funded public sculpture commission for the opening of the National Gallery of Australia by Queen Elizabeth II in 1982. In addition to sculpture, he wrote and drew extensively, searching for a sculptural alphabet, language and storey and ultimately a connection to the spiritual.

Robert Klippel
No. 789 1989
wood assemblage
147 x 179 x 85 cm
Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne
Gift of Robert Klippel 1999
© Andrew Klippel. Courtesy of The Robert Klippel Estate,
represented by Annette Larkin Fine Art,
Sydney and Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich /
Copyright Agency, 2019

Klippel described his creative process as relying on the development of intense emotion - as if feeling was the raw material of his work. He never planned his day but seemingly meandered through weeks-long phases of drawing, journaling and sculpting, all intuitively and emotionally led. It is said that each room in his house was a dedicated studio. In describing his work processes, he didn’t see all his activities as separate elements, to him it was all a part of the whole, a view that perhaps echoes his explorations in eastern religion and philosophy.

An innovator, explorer and traveller, his training was a blend of classical studies (often cut short in pursuit of the new), through to practical short courses in welding, glassblowing and jewelry making at local TAFE’s. His work can be likened to themes in constructivism. He spent time abroad in the UK, Paris and the USA, toggling back to Australia, often to be dispirited by the conservatism of the local art market. He formed relationships with the Australian surrealist painter James Gleeson and the father of surrealism, Andre Breton was
Robert Klippel
Nos 1037-1126 Eighty-seven small polychromed tin sculptures 1995
polychromed tin and wire
various dimensions
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Gift of Andrew Klippel 2002
© Andrew Klippel. Courtesy of The Robert Klippel Estate,
represented by Annette Larkin Fine Art,
Sydney and Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich /
Copyright Agency, 2019

instrumental in facilitating a Paris exhibition. In New York he became a member of ‘The Club’, the highly influential abstract impressionist artist group attended by Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock amongst others. Although he found the art vibe in New York inspirational, it left him disconnected from the natural world and the impersonality of the city was a turn off. He decided eventually in the late 60’s to call Australia home. He did a lot of rummaging around in old factory storehouses - being delighted with the discovery with old wooden casting moulds, cogs, wheels and sprockets. On a personal note, if he were ever to have visited my house I would make sure I locked up my typewriter. 
Robert Klippel
No. 247 Metal construction 1965-68
welded and brazed steel, found objects and wood
269 x 145 x 126 cm
Queensland Art Gallery I Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
Purchased 1983. Queensland Art Gallery Foundation
© Andrew Klippel. Courtesy of The Robert Klippel Estate,
represented by Annette Larkin Fine Art,
Sydney and Galerie Gmurzynska, Zurich /
Copyright Agency, 2019

Klippel’s work is intricate, complex and unusual. After viewing the abstract sculptor David Smith’s work in the late ‘50’s Klippel criticised his own work as too busy and complicated. Mystic, confronting, lacking in symbolism but deeply evocative, one can feel transported to surrealistic realms of nature and machine, molecular dynamics and quantum physics. One wonders if research scientists in molecular engineering might find stimulation and inspiration in viewing his works. The works provoke rather than embrace, stimulate rather than comfort. Preconceptions of form are stripped away by revealing challenging connections. Klippel’s work encourages a connection to deep patterns within our existence on this planet. He believed in God and saw art as somehow a connection to the spiritual.

“I think one of the reasons for being interested in art is to come to grips with a deeper reality or God or whatever you call it. One can’t have art without coming into touch with some spiritual reality”

Assembled: The Art of Robert Klippel - Tarrawarra until Feb 16.

Post Script
Robert Klippel’s son, Andrew, has done much work in the music world being the principle member of a pioneering music group Euphoria, whose hit “love you right” (1992) went double platinum in Australia and reached the top 10 in the UK and Europe. He became a producer and worked with Human Nature, The Veronicas and Burt Bacharach among others. He has collaborated with jazz musicians producing the album Orange in 2007. Andrew had a close relationship with his father.

References
Robert Klippel - National Gallery of Australia Tim Fisher 1993
Klippel/Klippel : Opus 2008 / Frances Lindsay with essays by Deborah Edwards and Todd Wagstaff 2008

article: Michael Adeney

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