Renown Australian visual artist and stainless steel geometric sculptor, Herbert ‘Bert’ Flugelman was born in 1923 in Vienna, Austria. In 1938, at the age of 15, he migrated to Australia, just before the break-out of WW2. During the war years he served in the Australian Army (Non-combative duties).
Post-War he studied at Sydney’s National Art School (1948-1951). He then traveled to overseas. In 1952 he contracted polio which left him with a mobility disability. However, this did not stop him holding several successful exhibitions at London’s Piccadilly Gallery and New York’s Barone Gallery before returning to Australia in 1955.
Flugelman was a lecturer and later became Head of Sculpture at the South Australian School of Art (1972-1983). During this period he completed some of his most famous work, including Festival Sculpture (1974), The Spheres (1977) and Cones at the National Gallery of Australia (1982).
He then took up the position of Senior Lecturer and Fellow at the School of Creative Arts, University of Wollongong from 1984-1990; later becoming Professorial Fellow in 1991.
- In 1995, he received an honorary Doctorate of Creative Art (Honoris Causa); and
- In 1997, he received the Australia Council’s Visual Arts/Craft Fund, Emeritus Award.
- Flugelman’s career has not been without controversy; such as when he created the chainsaw carving of Margaret Thatcher and “The Silver Shish Kebab” placed in Martin Place, Sydney which was heavily criticized by Sydney’s then Lord Mayor Frank Sartor; that led to the sculpture being moved to a different location.
At the time of his death on 26th February, 2013, Flugelman was living in the Southern Highlands township town of Bowral in New South Wales.
The photo featured above is Flugelman’s 1977 stainless steel 4m tall sculpture “The Spheres“, consisting of two large stainless steel spheres with a diameter of 2.15 m balanced one on top of the other. This resides in the City of Adelaide’s Rundle Mall.
- It is locally referred to as “Mall’s Balls” and has become a bit of a local “will meet you there” location.
Flugelman was once quoted as saying: “I find it unrewarding to be consistent. The world is full of interesting, funny, excruciating things. My attention wanders, my appetite’s change”.
I wonder how he would have reacted to the colloquial “Mall’s Balls” infamy of this piece of his art?