Inge King

polychrome steel maquette
43.0 x 16.0 x 22.0 cm


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Eva Breuer Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney since 2001

  • Icarus

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Credited as a major contributor to the evolution of Australian modern abstract sculpture, Inge King  described her sculpture as 'vision in motion'. Her works, while static, are reminiscent of machines, planetary bodies or scientific diagrams, all of which suggest both a sense of movement and of immense scale. Born in Berlin in 1918, King travelled widely in her early years as an artist, spending time in Glasgow, New York, Paris and London before settling in Melbourne in 1951. Inspired by the welded sculptural works she encountered while in New York, King began working with industrial steel and arc welding in the early 1960s.

After arriving in Australia, she became one of the "Centre Five" group in Melbourne, with King being one of five recent emigrants from Europe bringing modernist ideas of abstraction to Australian audiences. She developed a major public profile in her lifetime, arguably her most famous commission being the 1974 work Forward Surge for the Melbourne Arts Centre. She also completed major commissions for the University of Melbourne and Rings of Saturn at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne. Late in her career, in the 1990s, King began to regularly incorporate figurative elements in her work. Her bronze sculptures in particular playfully challenged the viewer to consider the juxtaposition of formal spatial relationships and figurative elements that often reference human and bird-like forms. 

Inge King exhibted for close to 70 years in Europe and in Australia, including 10 exhibitions with her husband, printmaker Grahame King. Inge King was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1984. Ahead of her 100th birthday, the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, held Happy Birthday Inge King, which turned out to be her last solo exhibition. She died in 2016, aged 100.