Cover image of the review
John Pearson, *Robert Klippel in his Potts Point workshop from the Robert Klippel archive*, 12 April 1957, gelatin silver photograph, 15.3 x 22.7 cm, National Art Archive, Art Gallery of New South Wales. Gift of Andrew Klippel 2017, © Robert Klippel Estate © John Pearson. Photo: AGNSW

Assembled: The Art of Robert Klippel

8 Feb 2020
23 Nov - 16 Feb 2020

Robert Klippel isn’t my genius. Despite knowing that his insights don’t move me, I enjoy being in his world, in which the logic of the hand is trusted tenfold more than the logic of the head.

Klippel was not a thinking artist. He consistently (including in the video accompanying Assembled: The Art of Robert Klippel) spoke about how much he did not understand and did not get along with the majority of people who spoke about art. He is painfully explicit when emphasising his youthful interest in model-ship building, a hobby that he had wholeheartedly imagined would be his life-long passion. It was surprising to Klippel when, at the age of 20 years, art literally replaced model-making. Three years later in 1947, after attending art school in Sydney and London, Klippel was in the grips of a drawing mania, but could make no sculptures. He wrote in his notebook: “Feel very stimulated to build model ship / Royal yacht. / Base carving or Ship Form Which I know well (his emphasis)”. In a time of creative struggle, the still-young artist just wanted something he could mindlessly copy. A nostalgic impulse from a time of great uncertainty.

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