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The James Gleeson oral history collection

James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists

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image: Robert Klippel (Collage and ink splashes in abstract design) 1955 drawing, Technique: cut paper, airbrush, ink, pencil sheet 37.5 h x 55.3 w cm

Robert Klippel
(Collage and ink splashes in abstract design) 1955
Drawing, Technique: cut paper, airbrush, ink, pencil
sheet 37.5 h x 55.3 w cm
more detail

Robert Klippel

4 August 1978 [unknown location]

James Gleeson: It seems to me extraordinary that in this period ’54 to ’55 you should have been working on so many different ideas, all related of course by your over-riding interest in the relationships of interior/exterior form, but using totally different means to express that.

Robert Klippel: That’s right. But maybe at that time I was particularly interested in perspex which I found very difficult to work and I had done a glass blowing course in 1953. Well, it does seem very diverse but maybe it comes out in the drawings. There would be some link in the drawings of that period showing why there’s this great changes in the sculpture, but I did so few pieces of sculpture at that time.

James Gleeson: I remember this was a difficult time for you.

Robert Klippel: Sheer difficulties, terrible difficulties having to spend from nine till five, or whatever it was, working.

James Gleeson: I remember that this period from the time you came back from Paris till the time you went to America the first time was particularly rich in drawings rather than sculptures. There were a few sculptures.

Robert Klippel: That’s right, but it took me, like as now, it took me so long to make them. You know, like that one, that triangular one, you know, nearly a year on it.

James Gleeson: At this time were you working on them only at night and weekends?

Robert Klippel: Night and weekends. No, I’m sorry. I’d given up that job and I was working in an industrial designer at this time in 1955, and I had this workshop in Potts Point, but I didn’t have enough time to concentrate and get a great number of works going. But I think at the time I was doing this I did small—I think there’d be photographs of a lot of small little pieces of triangles and things coming into it at about that period. Which I think in this photograph taken by Drysdale, taken about 1956 or ’57, shows all sorts of little sketches which you just catch sight of there.

James Gleeson: That’s right.

Robert Klippel: Because here’s another triangle one done in 1956 which was—

James Gleeson: So that it is right at the beginning, or in the middle of a whole period of works that expanded out from it.

Robert Klippel: That culminated in that. That was the last one I did before I went to America, that one. That complicated one. You see, and this one was painted in red, black and white, which are some of my favourite combination of colours. Then I took that, I exhibited it with the Sculptors Society I think in 1955 or ’56.

James Gleeson: Was that the David Jones Gallery?

Robert Klippel: David Jones.

James Gleeson: That’s where these Opus 64 and 65 were shown?

Robert Klippel: That’s right. That was the year before the year of the exhibition, the exhibition before. So this one would have been the year after—maybe 1956—it would have been shown in David Jones.


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