Inge King

National Gallery of Victoria

Inge King’s sculptures are an intensely cosmopolitan revision of Modernist abstraction. Her recent bronze constructions connote the body in a weirdly literal montage of cubist space and anthropomorphic silhouette. Until 1989, it seemed that King would continue to embellish the signs of high Modernism—impersonal surfaces, industrial materials, and geometric forms. In parallel with the reductive teleology of Modernism, she had simplified her sculptures. From the evidence of this retrospective, however, it is clear that her work always embodied a contrary tendency towards narrative complication. The most severe, resistant materials had therefore been King’s license to fetishize absolute constraint. In bronzes like Joi de vivre, 1989, extravagant gesture becomes the metaphor for mutable thought.

Despite a lifetime of manufacture outdoors, King’s sculptures are museum objects par excellence.

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