Ron Mueck  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Ron Mueck (born 1958) is an Australian hyperrealist sculptor working in Great Britain.

Mueck's early career was as a model maker and puppeteer for children's television and films, notably the film Labyrinth for which he also contributed the voice of Ludo.

Mueck moved on to establish his own company in London, making photo-realistic props and animatronics for the advertising industry. Although highly detailed, these props were usually designed to be photographed from one specific angle hiding the mess of construction seen from the other side. Mueck increasingly wanted to produce realistic sculptures which looked perfect from all angles.

In 1996 Mueck transitioned to fine art, collaborating with his mother-in-law, Paula Rego, to produce small figures as part of a tableau she was showing at the Hayward Gallery. Rego introduced him to Charles Saatchi who was immediately impressed and started to collect and commission work. This led to the piece which made Mueck's name, Dead Dad, being included in the Sensation show at the Royal Academy the following year. Dead Dad is a rather haunting silicone and mixed media sculpture of the corpse of Mueck's father reduced to about two thirds of its natural scale. It is the only work of Mueck's that uses his own hair for the finished product.

Mueck's sculptures faithfully reproduce the minute detail of the human body, but play with scale to produce disconcertingly jarring visual images. His five metre high sculpture Boy 1999 was a feature in the Millennium Dome and later exhibited in the Venice Biennale.

Selected works

Mueck's 'Mask II'
  • Dead Dad (1996–97), silicone, acrylic paint and human hair - a 2/3rds life-size sculpture of Mueck's father lying on his back, naked - Saatchi Collection
  • Pinocchio (1996), mixed media - standing boy, perhaps 5 years of age, wearing only underpants. Saatchi Collection
  • Angel (1997), mixed media - a 1/3 scale boy seated on a tall stool, in a brooding pose looking down, sprouting wings made of real goose feathers - Saatchi Collection
  • Ghost (1998), mixed media - 2 metres tall (3/2 scale?) adolescent girl, in swimming costume, leaning against a wall, face averted - Tate Gallery
  • Boy (2000), fibreglass, resin, silicone - a 5 metre tall sculpture of a boy, crouching. First shown in the UK Millennium Dome exhibition. It is now owned by the art museum ARoS in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, who use it as a trademark piece.
  • Man in Blankets (2000), mixed media - 1/2 scale - elderly naked man almost completely enveloped in blankets, which form a kind of cocoon.
  • Old Woman in Bed (2000), mixed media - 1/2 scale - very elderly or dying woman lying in bed, draped in blankets, asleep - Anthony d'Offay
  • Baby (2000), mixed media - tiny naked newborn baby boy, arms akimbo - Keith and Kathy Sachs.
  • Untitled (Big Man) (2000) - a nearly seven-foot sculpture of a naked, completely hairless, belligerent-looking man sitting with his knees drawn up and his elbows resting on his knees, his head in his hand. The work is designed to sit in a corner. Owned by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., it has become one of the museum's most popular works since its acquisition.
  • Seated Woman (2000), mixed media - 1/2 scale clothed, seated, elderly woman, hands clasped, eyes almost closed - Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
  • Mask II (2001-2), mixed media. Huge head (the face appears to be Mueck's own), lying on its side as if asleep - private collection. Currently on display at the Aberdeen Art Gallery.
  • Mother and Child (2002), fibreglass, resin, silicone - 1/2 scale naked woman who has just given birth, the baby laid on her stomach with umbilical cord still attached and trailing to the woman's womb.
  • Man in a Boat (2002), mixed media - 1/3 scale naked man seated toward the prow of a 4-metre long rowing boat. (on display in Aberdeen Art Gallery until 31/10/09)
  • Pregnant Woman (2002), fibreglass, resin, silicone - 2.5 metres tall sculpture of a naked pregnant woman clasping her hands above her head - National Gallery of Australia
  • Swaddled Baby (2002), mixed media - lifesize new-born baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, head on a pillow.
  • Wild Man (2005) - a nine-foot sculpture of a naked, bearded man clutching the stool he is seated on. (on display in Aberdeen Art Gallery until 31/10/09)
  • Spooning Couple (2005), mixed media. 1/2 scale of partially clothed middle-aged man and woman lying in 'spooning' position as if in bed - artist's collection.
  • In Bed (2005). Huge (3 x scale?) woman lying in bed, hand raised to her face in a contemplative pose - Queensland Gallery of Modern Art.
  • Mask III (2005), mixed media. Huge (1.5 metre tall) face of a black woman - Anthony d'Offay.
  • Two Women (2005) - two diminutive, clothed, elderly women - National Gallery of Victoria (Australia).
  • Mask Self Portrait(2007) - eight-foot sculpture - Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University on loan from Mr. and Mrs. J. Tomilson Hill


Ron Mueck's first exhibition in Japan opened on April 26, 2008 at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. It ran until August 8 and featured a collection of works displayed over 6 spaces in the gallery. Among them were Mueck's latest work "A Girl". The exhibition also included two short films about the artist, covering both his artistic background, and his production techniques.

An exhibition was held at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, from December 12, 2007 through March 30, 2008. "Ron Mueck at The Andy Warhol Museum" features seven of the artist’s realistic human sculptures including: In a marital Bed (2005) a giant sculpture of a woman lying in bed; A Girl (2006), a vast sculpture of a newborn baby; Wild Man (2005), a nine-foot sculpture of a naked, bearded man; Spooning Couple (2005), a miniature sculpture of a couple lying together on a bed; Man in a Boat (2002) a naked man sitting in a life-size wooden rowing boat; Ron Mueck’s self-portrait, Mask II (2001–2002); and Mask III (2005), a large portrait of a black woman.

A major exhibition of his work was shown in Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Festival at the Royal Scottish Academy Building until 1 October 2006. A solo exhibition of nine works by Ron Mueck was presented at the Brooklyn Museum from 3 November 2006 through 4 February 2007.

An exhibit of his work was also on view at the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa from 2 March to 6 May 2007 organized by the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain (Paris), in collaboration with the National Gallery of Canada, the Brooklyn Museum and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

His work is also on exhibition at the McClelland Gallery in Frankston, Melbourne, Australia. The three works on exhibition are "Wild Man", "Pregnant Woman" and "Two Women Grim".

The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas showed an exhibition of thirteen of Mueck's pieces from June 24, 2007 through October 21, 2007. The works in the show include Untitled (Seated Woman) (1999), Dead Dad (1996–97), In Bed (2005), Untitled (Big Man) (2000), Two Women (2005), Crouching Boy in Mirror (1999–2000), Spooning Couple (2005), Mask II (2001–02), Mask III (2005), Wild Man (2005), and A Girl (2006).

See also

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