Having no artistic ability myself, I love looking at other people’s creativity and talent. I
particularly enjoy sculptures and found this artist while searching on-line for interesting
pieces. The artist, Ron Mueck, was born in Australia and began his career as a
puppeteer and model maker for children’s T.V. and movies. This includes time spent
working with the late Muppet creator, Jim Henson. He then moved to London to open
his own business making realistic props and animatronics for advertising. In 1996,
Mueck transitioned in to the fine arts by creating small figurines. His pieces are
generally made using a clay model and can include silicone, polyurethane, wood, resin,
synthetic hair and fur, fiberglass, and cotton. One piece, Dead Dad, is silicone and
mixed media but also his own hair. It is the only sculpture to include real hair.
Realism is said to show the ordinary and everyday so to term Mueck as a ‘Hyperrealist’
seems appropriate. While the subjects of his sculptures are ultra-realistic, the
scales at which they are made is anything but ordinary. Some pieces are abnormally
large whereas others are much smaller than their actual size.The ancient Greeks often
sculpted the ideal body image with emotionless faces. Much later, the Renaissance
period of sculpting added expression and energy to their sculptures. One example of
this is Michelangelo’s David. By understanding human anatomy, David represents the
perfect male specimen. Mueck’s subjects are far from flawless, showing every vein,
wrinkle, hair, and blemish on the body. These imperfections are what I love and hate
about Mueck’s work. While I can appreciate the talent needed to create such precise
details, I don’t necessarily always enjoy looking at it. To me some of these sculptures
are like looking at a car crash; many people slow down to see what has happened but
would probably be horrified if they actually came upon a grotesque scene. Similarly, all
of Mueck’s sculptures are shown with such precision and detail that it can be a bit
I found this especially true in both Dead Dad (1996-1997) and A Girl (2006). If the
naked man were not one-third the normal size, you might actually think you are looking
at a real corpse. Some people, myself included, like to hope that death is peaceful and
this piece feels quite the opposite. It is so raw and realistic that I am a little repulsed by
it. This is also true of the large scale baby girl. Rather than the ‘pink bundle of joy’ of
imagination, she is still bloodied with part of her umbilical cord jutting out. When asked
why he alters the scale of his figures, Mueck replied “It makes you take notice in a way
that you wouldn’t do with something that’s just normal” (Sculpture.org). Some pieces
such as Big Man and Couple Under an Umbrella, I found more pleasurable to look at.
Although they also included every fat dimple and wrinkle a person can have, I wasn’t
turned off by them like in the previous two works. Over-all, I think Mueck’s talent is both
undeniable and fascinating but I don’t personally care to have that much reality slap me
in the face.
- Does altering the scale of his subjects create more of an impact on you?
- By being able to see every imperfection, do you find Mueck’s sculptures too realistic?
- Do you believe that photo-shopping and digital enhancement in advertising is deceptive?