b. 1915 - 2016
Sculpture is drawing from a thousand different angles. Inge King
Inge King was born in Berlin, Germany in 1915; at a time when the world was reeling from WWI. King started studying at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts in 1937, Germany. She left Germany in 1939 due to the war. Once in London, she received a scholarship to study at the Royal Academy in 1940; however the course was largely unfulfilling as there were no facilities for sculpture. Soon King’s study was interrupted again by the war and she moved to Glasgow, Scotland, successfully undertaking sculpture at the Glasgow School of Art.
In 1947 she settled in London at the artists community Abbey Art centre. The commune attracted Canadian, English, South African and Australian artists, including Robert Klippel, James Gleeson and Grahame King, who would soon become her husband.
The King’s made Australia their home in 1951. Once settled, Inge found Melbourne’s sculpture scene severely lacking. With her training and knowledge of the European, American and British art scenes, Melbourne’s offering of a painting community and not much else was cold comfort. To remedy this King set about collecting like-minded, often immigrant sculptors such as Julius Kane and Norma Redpath. This quest for connection gave way for the creation of one of Australia’s most influential sculptural groups, the ‘Centre Five’.
In the 1960’s she found her niche direction; metal sculpture. Feeding from her interest in the abstract expressionist style, Inge abandoned her formal training in wood and stone and moved towards modern materials of steel and aluminium. Welding became her greatest skill.
The works of the 1960’s demonstrated a turning point in technique and in her approach to the metal medium as it employed some ‘found’ pieces and off cuts, offering endless combinations of form. King’s sensitivity with the metal medium shines in Untitled (displayed above and in this exhibition). The work showcases her mastery of controlled cutting techniques which create the textured areas of molten metal on the edges of the works.
In keeping with the values she was taught in Britain, King felt very strongly about the importance of ‘truth to material’, as emphasized by Henry Moore, a British contemporary of her time. King actively exercised and advocated this ideal, in turn showing her understanding of her material and her modernity.
Over the coming 40 years of her career she would move towards the streamlined, refined surfaces of steel that would lead to her three largest and most recognizable public works; the engineering feat Forward Surge (1974) at the Victorian Arts Centre, Sentinel (2000) on the Eastern Freeway Melbourne and Rings of Saturn (2006) at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne.
Inge King ‘welded until (she) was 90’ and only stopped working altogether in 2013. It’s this hardnosed determination and a love of creating that has sustained her through her 70+ year career.
Create a small sculpture from cardboard. Focus on experimenting with rough surfaces and edges.
Discuss King’s comment on public art, I like people to participate if possible, I like to arouse their curiosity...That's what public sculpture is for. At worst, you have to repaint them from time to time. (King & Coslovich, 2003, URL)
King used a range of industrial techniques e.g. Oxy cutting, arc welding to create her work. Research the processes involved with these techniques.
Inge King Sculptor is an excerpt from the documentary A Thousand Different Angles, produced by Frontyard Films in 2009. Written and directed by Amanda King.
King used a range of industrial techniques e.g. Oxy cutting, arc welding to create her work. Visit the Industrial Technology classroom or a local fabricator to see these processes in action.
Much of Inge King’s work is about the challenge of creating movement using static objects and setting that against different environments. Identify and discuss the ideas and concepts evident in both King’s pieces Forward Surge (1974) at the Victorian Arts Centre and Rings of Saturn (2006) at Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, also drawing any similarities and differences between the two.
Inge King: Works from the Studio 1940s-2013 spans 70 years of Inge King’s work (01:00)
View the video above and write an article reviewing the exhibition and Inge King’s career.
IMAGES: Portrait:Inge King Photo: Simon Schluter. Inge King Helmet 1962. welded cast steel. 22 x 10 x 10 cm. Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Small Sculpture Collection Purchase. Photo: Clare Lewis