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Australian art

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No 86 metal construction



Robert Klippel

Australia, United States of America

19 Jun 1920 - 19 Jun 2001


Robert Klippel's is the greatest body of work produced by an Australian sculptor. The artist's singular vision, inspired by the intricacies and profusion of the natural and built environments, and by his quest for a spiritually relevant form, stands alone in the history of Australian art. His work is characterised by his extraordinary sculptural inventiveness and is underpinned by two of the core practices of 20th century modernism: assemblage and collage.

Klippel displayed early fascination with the structures and component parts of organic and mechanical forms, and a desire to forge correspondences between the two. His primary pursuit was to poetically synthesise the twin energies, organic and mechanical, which he saw as the defining qualities of life and culture in the twentieth century.

'No 86 metal construction' exemplifies this pursuit and demonstrates the development of Klippel's practice at a pivotal time while he was working in the United States. It is one of only three sculptures Klippel produced in 1959, having moved from New York to take up a teaching post at the Minneapolis School of Art. The work is perpendicular in structure, comprised of steel sheets cut into straight-edged shapes and brazed together. Geometric planes have been assembled in angular relationships to form a dense composition, which is almost cubist in appearance and quite distinctive in Klippel's oeuvre.


Other Title

Opus 86 Metal Construction



Media category


Materials used

brazed steel


101.0 x 32.0 x 26.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Gift of Danny and Lisa Goldberg 2013. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Robert Klippel

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 2 publications


Deborah Edwards (Curator), Natalie Wilson (Assistant Curator) and Eric Riddler (Compilator), Robert Klippel: Catalogue raisonné of sculpture, Sydney, 2002, n.pag.. CD-ROM

James Gleeson, Robert Klippel, 'The catalyst: America 1957-63', pg. 210-248, Kensington, 1983, 218, 220, 221 (illus.), 256, 465. titled 'Opus 85 Metal Construction'; plate no. 92