• Modern and Contemporary Austra auction at Christies

    Sale 5038

    Modern and Contemporary Australian Art

    23 September 2010, London, South Kensington

  • Lot 31

    Robert Edward Klippel (1920-2001)

    Metal Construction, Opus 71 (1956-7)

    Price Realised  


    Robert Edward Klippel (1920-2001)
    Metal Construction, Opus 71 (1956-7)
    brazed and welded metal, painted black
    27¼in. (69.4cm.) high

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    'In one year, Sydney in 1956 to New York in 1957, Klippel's work developed spectacularly. Its rapid but entirely natural progress can be seen in Plates 10 [the present lot] to 13. The tensions of form are sharper; movements are accelerated, and the foci of energy proliferate. A marvellously agile sensibility is at work, attuned to the finest variation in the angle of a rod or the disposition of an implied space. Few linear sculptors anywhere in recent years can have shown such control of complex forms...' (R. Hughes in Art and Australia, May 1964, p.26)

    'Although all the works of this period are closely related, there are nevertheless two distinct types. The earlier was a group of four consisting of Opus 66, Opus 67, a small uncatalogued sketch, and Opus 71 (he no longer gave names to his constructions but distinguished them by an opus number) and they were all made of brazed and welded steel rods with triangular metal planes set between the ribs. All were painted black or rust colour, except Opus 66, the earliest and largest of the series (152 x 152 centimetres), which was painted in red, black and white. (Between 1947 and 1955 most of his works had been coloured, but after Opus 66 he did not use colour again until 1962.) The small sketch is also distinct from the others by virtue of its size; at 15 centimetres high it is almost a miniature, and Klippel always regarded it as a sketch for a larger work which never materialized. It is also different in that the metal planes are welded directly to each other and not to a supporting armature of rods. Of this group Opus 71 is the most highly developed and the richest in the organization of its elements.' (J. Gleeson, Robert Klippel, pp.136-37)

    Special Notice

    VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 17.5% on the buyer's premium.


    Mrs Nina Mermey Klippel.

    Pre-Lot Text



    R. Hughes, 'Robert Klippel', Art and Australia, Vol.II, no. 1, May 1964, p.24, pl.10.
    J. Gleeson, Robert Klippel, Sydney, 1983, pp.136-38, p.464, illustrated pl.75, and showing in the photograph captioned 'Klippel in his Potts Point workshop, 1957' (pl.59).


    New York, Parma Gallery, 21 Oct.-8 Nov. 1958.