Serpent II

Herbert (bert) FLUGELMAN

Herbert (Bert) FLUGELMAN
Austrian/Australian 1923-2013 arrived Australia 1938
Serpent II 2009
Stainless steel

Born in Vienna in 1923, Herbert (Bert) Flugelman came to Australia with his family who were refugees from Nazism. Between 1943 and 1946 Flugelman served in the Australian Army as a non-combatant due to his status as a foreign national. After the War, he studied at the National Art School in Sydney before travelling to Europe in 1951. During his absence overseas, he showed paintings in several exhibitions, returning eventually to Australia in 1955.

Over the course of the ensuing decades, his preferred style – in painting and sculpture – shifted from the semi-figurative to varying degrees of abstraction, from organic or expressive modelling to sleek geometric formality. At the same time, he experimented with avant-grade practices such as conceptualism and performance.  From the 1960s he focussed increasingly on sculpture, becoming widely known in due course for immaculate and often large-scale sculptures comprising repeated geometric elements fabricated in highly-reflective stainless steel. 

In this idiom, his major commissions include monumental works in the city centres of Adelaide and Sydney and in the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Displayed elsewhere in this Park, Flugelman’s Conversation (2007) is characteristic of the artist’s geometric compositions, with its vertical aspect and angular surfaces reflecting and connecting with the work’s immediate surroundings. By contrast, this somewhat atypical sculpture of similar date assumes a low-slung and horizontal format, its writhing gesture suggestive of the ‘serpentine locomotion’ of a snake and, for that matter, a snake’s more menacing movements. Ultimately, however, the essence of the work is dynamic abstraction.

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