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Robert Klippel
, 1993

by Greg Weight

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 40.4 cm x 50.4 cm, image: 30.6 cm x 37.8 cm)

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 at East Sydney Technical College and at London’s Slade School, 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 there. He then returned to Sydney, where he lived and sculpted near Balmain until his death. He was collaborating on a retrospective show of his works at the Art Gallery of NSW when he died.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Patrick Corrigan AM 2004
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2004.64