Robin Gibson Gallery

modern + contemporary

Erwin Fabian


Erwin Fabian

Monody for Martin and Yosl
145×58×47cm steel

Featured in "Erwin Fabian Sculptor"

Erwin Fabian (1915-2020) was one of Australia’s most significant sculptors

He worked predominantly with different types of scrap metal and these materials he transforms into a new natural order. Some of the pieces have monumental proportions in this exhibition which exceed two metres, others are more miniature table sculptures. What is common in all of his sculptures is his remarkable ability to transform pieces of scrap metal into meaningful sculptural forms which have a huge presence, a distinct identity and which speak of a new natural order

He had that rare ability in that he was able to create a new and convincing reality through which the viewer can be seduced, enchanted and captivated. Although his sculptures are non-figurative and do not imitate anything representational in the seen world, in the final analysis his sculptural creations do belong to the grand tradition of humanist sculpture. In other words, they interact with us on a human and emotive level: we come to believe in their existence not only as aesthetic objects, but as metaphors for the human spirit.

Erwin Fabian exhibited for about half a century, and his work continued to grow in intensity, refinement and distilled beauty.

Reviews & Interviews

1 May 2017
Erwin’s Century
Interview by Jana Wendt for SBS
with images by Damien Pleming
click here

John McDonald John’s May 2015 Newsletter
Grey power is amply demonstrated at the Robin Gibson Gallery, with a show of abstract metal sculptures by Erwin Fabian, who is a mere 100 years old. Most of us couldn’t imagine bending pieces of iron like Erwin, at any age. He is one of the unsung legends of modern Australian art, and there seems to be no diminution in his powers whatsoever

Artist Profile
Erwin Fabian | Raising the bar
By Lucy Stranger | June 11, 2015
click here to read the article

ABC Arts Online 20 May 2015
by Susie Burge
Erwin Fabian is approaching 100 and still has the ‘wow factor’
click here to read the article

ABC Radio National (Artworks) 2009
Erwin Fabian interviewed by Suzanne Donisthorpe
click here to listen to the interview


Erwin Fabian

Bushphone 98×40×45cm wood


Erwin Fabian

Financial Times 1955 poster designed by Erwin Fabian
“The character of the illusion,” Ernst Gombrich wrote, “is hard to describe…” at the same time acknowledging that it had the capacity to “amuse and intrigue us”.


Erwin Fabian

Beginning and End 192×90×63cm steel


Born in Berlin in 1915, son of the painter Max Fabian (1873-1926). Left for England in 1938, interned, and deported to Australia in 1940 on the troopship Dunera. After internment, joined the Australian Army, later transferred to the Army Education Unit, to do covers and illustrations for its ‘Current Affairs Bulletin’, until demobilisation in 1946. Left Australia for London in 1949. Worked as a graphic designer in London until the 1960s, lecturing in Graphic Design at the London School of Printing and Graphic Arts. Returned to Australia in 1962. Held his first exhibition of sculpture at the Hungry Horse Gallery in Sydney. In 2000-2001, a large retrospective exhibition, ‘Max und Erwin Fabian: Berlin – London – Melbourne’, was held in the Stadtmuseum Berlin (Ephraim Palais).

Solo Exhibitions

2020 McClelland Gallery & Sculpture Park, with solo by Anne-Marie May
2019 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney New works
2019 Tatura Museum “Migration and the Refugee”
2017 Robin Gibson Gallery, New work
2015 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2013 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2013 Australian Galleries, Melbourne
2011 Robin Gibson Galleries Sydney
2011 Australian Galleries, Melbourne
2009 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2009 Australian Galleries, Melbourne
2007 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2006 A Survey 1977 – 2004, McClelland Gallery + Sculpture Park, Melbourne and Australian Galleries, Melbourne
2005 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2004 Australian Galleries, Melbourne
2002 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2000/1 Stadtmuseum Berlin (Ephraim Palais) with Max Fabian
1998 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1996 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1995 Australian Galleries, Melbourne
1989 Realities Gallery, Melbourne
1987 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1985 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1984 Realities Gallery, Melbourne
1980 Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
1980 Solander Gallery, Canberra
1977 Warehouse Gallery, Melbourne
1973 Bonython Gallery, Sydney
1965 Hungry Horse Gallery, Sydney

Selected Group Exhibitions

1989-2015 Annual Group Sculpture Exhibition, Robin Gibson Gallery, Sydney
2007 Small Pleasures: Painting and Sculpture, Australian Galleries, Melbourne
2006 50th Anniversary Exhibition, Australian Galleries, Melbourne
2004 Group Exhibition, Australian Galleries, Melbourne
2002 Axia Modern Art, Melbourne
1997 The Europeans: Emigre Artists in Australia1930-1960, National Gallery of Australia
1988-1994 Australian Contemporary Art Fair, Melbourne
1992 Meridian Gallery, Melbourne
1991 Australian Galleries, Melbourne
1981 First Australian Sculpture Triennial, Melbourne
1979 New South Wales House, London
1973 Sculpturescape ’73, Mildura
1973 17th Tasmanian Art Gallery Exhibition
1968 Bear Lane Gallery, Oxford, England
1968 Clytie Jessop Gallery, London
1966 Australian Sculpture Centre, Canberra


Bartmann, Dominik (2000) Max und Erwin Fabian. Berlin – London – Melbourne. Berlin Stadtmuseum, Berlin, Ephraim Palais.
Butler, Roger, ed. (1997) The Europeans: Emigré Artists in Australia 1930-1960. Canberra, National Gallery of Australia.
Designers in Britain, (Ray, Peter, ed.) (1954) vol. 4, London, Wingate.
Designers in Britain, (Ray, Peter, ed.) (1957) vol. 5, London, Deutsch.
Downer, Christine & Phipps, Jennifer (1985) Victorian Vision: 1834 Onwards: Images and Records from the National Gallery of Victoria and the State Library of Victoria. Melbourne, NGV.
Germaine, Max (1979-1997) Artists and Galleries of Australia. Sydney, Landsdowne; Brisbane, Boolarong.
Gombrich, Ernst (1960) Art and Illusion. London, Phaidon Press.
Grant, Kirsty & Leahy, Cathy (2003) On Paper: Australian Prints and Drawings in the National Gallery of Victoria. Melbourne, NGV.
McCulloch, Alan (1968, 1977, 1984) (Editions 1-3) Encyclopedia of Australian Art. Hawthorn, Hutchison.
McCulloch, Susan (1994) (Revised 3rd edition) Encyclopedia of Australian Art. St Leonards, Allen & Unwin.
McCullough, Tom (ed.) (1981) The First Australian Sculpture Triennial. First Australian Sculpture Triennial Committee, Bundoora.
Saur, K.G. (2003) Allgemeines Künstler-Lexikon: die Bildenden Künstler aller Zeiten und Voelker. München, Leipzig, Saur.
Scarlett, Ken (1980) Australian Sculptors. Melbourne, Nelson.
Vogue Living (1988, Spring) Steely resolve (Diana Bagnall).
Who’s Who of Australian Visual Artists (1995) 2nd Edition. Thorpe, Port Melbourne, in association with the National Association for the Visual Arts.


National Gallery of Australia
Art Gallery of New South Wales
National Gallery of Victoria
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston
High Court of Australia, Canberra
Parliament House, Canberra
Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Commonwealth Art Advisory Board
McClelland Gallery, Victoria
University of Wollongong Art Collection
British Museum, London
Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin
Kupferstich Kabinett, Berlin
Stadtmuseum Berlin (Ephraim Palais)
Jüdisches Museum, Berlin
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Collection, Langwarrin, Victoria
Elgee Park Sculpture Collection, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria
James Fairfax Collection, Sydney
Michael Feller Collection, Sydney
William Burge Collection, Sydney
Kurt and Annette Baier Collection, New Zealand
Margaret Tuckson Collection, Sydney
Mr & Mrs R. Curry Collection, Sydney
Richard & Carolyn Green Collection, Sydney
Ruth Schaffner Collection, USA
Anita & Luca Belgiorno-Nettis, Sydney

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