NGC@WAG: Ron Mueck

Ron Mueck, A Girl, 2006 Mixed media 110.5 x 501 x 134.5 cm (43 1⁄2 x 197 1⁄4 x 53 in) Purchased 2007. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa Photo © NGC


Co-organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the WAG

UK-based Australian artist Ron Mueck is known for his startlingly realistic yet enigmatic sculptures that portray humans at key stages in life, from birth through middle age, to death. In works that are either monumental in scale or undersized, he explores the human condition and psyche, often conveying through his work feelings of loneliness, vulnerability, and alienation.

Mueck grew up making creatures, puppets, and costumes in his spare time, experimenting with materials and techniques. With no formal art training beyond high school, he began his career making models for television and film. After establishing his own production company in London to make models for the advertising industry, he began making highly realistic figures using fibreglass resin.

In 1996, Mueck came to the attention of collector Charles Saatchi, who saw his half-sized figure Pinocchio in the studio of painter Paula Rego, Mueck's mother-in-law. Saatchi commissioned more work by Mueck, who began with an oversized baby, as a response to the birth of his child and the baby's sudden domination of the household. Untitled (Old Woman in Bed) (2000) was inspired by the artist's visit to see his wife's ailing grandmother, a beloved member of the family. It depicts a tiny, vulnerable woman enveloped in hospital linens. The sculpture conveys a sense of deep compassion for the subject.

In 1997, Mueck achieved immediate international recognition when his Dead Dad appeared in the controversial exhibition Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, a show that one critic summarized as "realism with a vengeance."

Mueck maintains an extremely high standard of craftsmanship beginning with clay maquettes and sculpting in fibreglass, silicone, and resin. Included in this exhibition are two amazing sculptures, along with resin maquettes, sketches, and other intriguing preparatory materials.


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