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Robert Klippel
, 1979

by David Moore

gelatin silver photograph, selenium toned

Robert Klippel AO (1920-2001) was the most significant sculptor Australia has yet produced. He joined the Royal Australian Navy in 1939, and spent the war constructing model aircraft and ships designed to educate his fellow-servicemen in the recognition of enemy craft. After the war he studied sculpture in Sydney and London, and his 'assemblages' - sculptures that combined mechanical objects with organic materials - attracted enthusiasm in Europe. Among their admirers was the French surrealist André Breton, who organised an exhibition in Paris in 1949. Klippel moved to the USA in 1957, and spent a decade teaching sculpture there. He then returned to Sydney, where he lived and worked in the Balmain area until his death. This year alone he made more than thirty sculptures. He was collaborating on a major retrospective show of his works when he died on his 81st birthday.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 1998
Accession number: 1998.16