Inge King: Constellation

Inge KingAt the forefront of Australian abstract sculpture for more than six decades, the formidable career of Inge King AM (pictured) will be celebrated with a major survey at the National Gallery of Victoria in May. Now in her 99th year, King is one of the country’s most respected artists, holding a distinguished place in Australian art history.

Inge King: Constellation will be staged throughout the foyer spaces across NGV Australia’s three levels and present 92 works, from small maquette studies to larger, full-scale pieces, alongside King’s recent sculptures and collages, her lesser-unknown jewellery designs and many early works, some of which have never been on public display.

“Inge King has been a vibrant force in Australian sculpture for more than sixty years,” says Tony Ellwood, Director, NGV. “We have been honoured to develop this retrospective in collaboration with Inge, recognising the deep and lasting impact she has had and continues to have upon the field of modern Australian sculpture.”

King’s work is held in all major national collections and through her numerous commissions she has become one of Australia’s best known and most prominent sculptural artists, renowned especially for her monumental public works. These include her thirteen metre-tall work Sentinel, 2000, located on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway and, what is perhaps her most admired public sculpture, Forward surge, 1974–81, sited on the lawn between the Victorian Arts Centre and Hamer Hall and which, in 1992, was listed by the National Trust of Australia.

Born Ingeborg Neufeld in 1915 in Berlin, King was first introduced to sculpture by the German figurative sculptor Hermann Nonnenmacher in 1937. She spent time travelling through the United Kingdom and United States before settling permanently in Australia in 1951.

Having witnessed the vibrant post-war European art scene and beginnings of Abstract Expressionism in the United States, upon her relocation to Australia she created some of the earliest steel sculptures to be produced in the country. Within a decade, King had established a firm reputation as a significant sculptor.

“Inge King’s career as an artist is an extraordinary story of determination, commitment and exceptional longevity,” says David Hurlston, Curator of Australian Art, NGV.

“Since arriving in Australia in 1951 she has a produced an enormous body of work and has made an indelible contribution to the history of modern sculpture in this country. Inge King: Constellation is a tribute to one of our most important and most senior artists.”

“With the inclusion of work by Grahame King, her late husband and dedicated companion, it will also recognise the unique artistic collaboration that existed between them and the supporting role he played in her career. Their practices were closely intertwined from when they met in 1948 at the Abbey Arts Centre in Hertfordshire, UK, continuing until Grahame’s death in 2008.”

Inge King: Constellation
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Federation Square, Melbourne
Exhibition: 1 May – 31 August 2014
Free entry

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Image: Inge King in her studio, 2013 – photo by David Hurlston