Robert Klippel on Paper, 1950-1963

11 March 2020 – 18 April 2020

Show exhibition essay

Between 1950, when Robert Klippel returned to Sydney following three years in London and Paris, and 1957, when he left Australia for New York, he produced fewer than twenty sculptures. It was a significant period within his artistic development, during which he made the transition from carving to assemblage, replaced wood with metal as his preferred sculptural medium, and produced hundreds of drawings and collages which chart the brilliant diversity of his creative imagination.

Incorporating coloured inks, watercolour, gouache and pencil, Klippel’s drawings sometimes relate to three-dimensional work that was being developed concurrently, and at other times, show him testing sculptural possibilities. The collages, which began in 1952, often reflect his fascination with machinery – pre-dating the sculptures which used reclaimed ‘junk metal’ from machines by almost a decade – while the inspiration he found in the natural world is seen in ink splatters that imitate the appearance and effect of splashing rain. And still other works on paper are more painterly, gestural and expressive. Whatever their approach, Klippel’s mastery of colour, composition and abstract form is always on full display.

Writing in his 1949 diary, Klippel noted that, ‘[d]rawings really are to develop the imaginative process … [and] to widen the range of sculptural possibilities.’ While this statement accurately describes the purpose of many of his drawings and collages which illuminate the generative processes of his sculpture, it downplays their position within his oeuvre. Viewed as a whole, Klippel’s graphic work represents a major part of his output which both complements his better-known sculpture and, in many cases, stands independent of it, exemplifying the tireless experimentation, invention and the desire to ‘make something new’ that characterised his career.

KIRSTY GRANT

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD647 and S 102) July 1952

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD663 and S 58) September 1951

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD716 and S 97) 1952

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD859 and P 62) February 1950

SOLD

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD678) 1950

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD860) June 1953

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD432) January 1952

SOLD

Robert Klippel

Untitled (Uncat. 195 and S 66) December 1951

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD659 and S 214) 1955

SOLD

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD658 and S 210) May 1955

SOLD

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD646 and S 244) 1956

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD697 and S 256) 1956

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD718 and A 5) August 1957

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD666 and A 4) August 1957

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD692 and A 25) July 1959

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD651 and A 31) May 1960

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD252) August 1963

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD251) August 1963

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD733 and S 122) 1952

SOLD

Robert Klippel

Untitled 1956

SOLD

Robert Klippel

Untitled (AKD632 and S 254) 1956

Robert Klippel

No. 467, 1982; No. 640, 1986; No. 394, 1981; No.... 1981-1989