Saturday, May 3, 2008

The unnerving figures of RON MUECK

Years ago, Steve Martin had a routine about "getting small". He riffed about shrinking in size as if it were a metaphor for using psychedelic substances. The artist Ron Mueck must have also wanted to "get small", because he creates art that makes the viewer feel Lilliputian; he makes hyper-realistic, over-sized sculptures of human beings , and they are a trip!

His art is currently touring the country, and Jane and I went to see his breathtaking work about a month ago at the Warhol Art Museum. Here's a photo I took of a work titled A Girl:

The closer you get to Mueck's mammoth, extremely detailed works of art the smaller you feel,

until you feel mildly horrified, with a suspicion that you are dreaming nagging at your rationality.

Ron Mueck has no formal art training; he formerly worked in model-making for t.v. and for movies such as Labyrinth. He learned how to expertly work in silicone and fiberglass, the materials of the works you see in these photos. His models (or "hollow sculptures") are practically perfect: the skin appears translucent; veins and minor blemishes can be seen. In the piece below, a model of Mueck's own face titled Mask II, you can see nose hair inside the nostrils:

The sculpture below is Untitled (Boy). It typifies how Mueck's works in a public setting can appear to be something out of a sci-fi movie; except the viewer is in the presence of an actual marvel, rather than seeing rapidly projected photographs of one. The photo reminds me of films where oversized "freaks" or monsters are made to exhibit themselves to a paying crowd of curious gawkers.

(The above photo comes from the Flickr set of "erniea".)

To get an even better sense of the scale of this work, here's a detail photo (my thanks to G. Solomon):

He works in small sizes, too. One work that I saw placed the figure of a man about 1/4 normal (but hyper-realistically detailed as usual) inside an actual rowboat. I thought of The Incredible Shrinking Man, as the title character begins his transformation in a boat.

I recommend anyone who has a chance to view Mueck's work to make every effort to do so; you'll never forget what you see.

Related links:

Awesome Sculptures of Ron Mueck!
(an excellent overview of Mueck's work)

Like Life
(A negative review of Mueck's sculptures)

More links to come.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Max-

Cool stuff.

How about a report on the BODIES visit?

-Craig W.

Max the drunken severed head said...

Coming next week, Craig!

Pierre Fournier said...

Ron Mueck on The Severed Head blog... See, that's why I love your blog, Max. You take us from Topps Ugly Stickers to high-end contemporary art.

Wonderfully written, too.


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