TarraWarra Museum of Art’s (TWMA) summer exhibition Assembled: The Art of Robert Klippel can only reinforce his reputation as Australia’s foremost modern sculptor. Yet he lacks the public reputation of his contemporary painters – John Olsen, Fred Williams, John Brack, and so on. Klippel (1920–2001) is known largely, if not exclusively, to the world of art. This exhibition may right that historic injustice. Thoughtfully curated by Kirsty Grant, it brought the three basic streams of his art – the drawings, the metal sculpture, and the monumental wood works of his final phase – into a crisp and clear narrative.
From the outset, Klippel was an abstract artist. ‘Sculpture must be revolutionized without the figure,’ he declared in 1948. ‘A feeling for form’ (his phrase) remained a paramount concern throughout his career. He developed that passion in an intense campaign of drawing in Paris and London between 1947 and 1950. The drawings were exceptionally well chosen in Assembled. It’s easy to ‘over-egg the pudding’ with them, for they abound.