artist of the (day) #35: Ron Mueck

Everyone likes a cute baby. What about when it’s 20 feet tall? And of course we all look up to our fathers. But would your impression change if he was 1/3 the size? And I know I’ve heard pregnant women say they feel like they’ve quadrupled in size. What happens when they actually do? Find a glimpse into questions like these through the fascinating work of hyper-realist sculptor Ron Mueck.

Mueck takes his ability to create a super realistic human sculpture and twists it quite powerfully with the concept of scale. I wouldn’t have guessed that just playing with one element in an artwork could change it so radically, but his work proves otherwise. My first reaction is somewhat off putting, most likely out of a feeling of pure displacement. After a minute or two I can start to see deeper concepts. Like there is something very empowering about a pregnant woman who is about 18 feet tall. Perhaps a giant baby represents how large it feels in the confines of your daily life. And I know personally that every time I have been to an open casket viewing, the body seems smaller than I remember it. So I think Mueck is trying to exaggerate that sensation. At the very very least, he is making a special effort at grabbing your attention. I know I have had days when I am trying to get as much art viewing in as possible, and I am practically racing through galleries and museums, only stopping to look at what catches my eyes. This work would definitely stop me in my path.

Ron Mueck started his career by making and operating puppets on an Australian kid’s show. At one point he even worked with Jim Henson on the movie The Labyrinth in which he designed and voiced Ludo. He then gained some work creating animatronic sculptures for various advertisements, but always felt some sort of dissatisfaction that the pieces only looked good from a specific angle. After some years he decided to try his hand at fine art where he could try to get passed this challenge. He first gained attention with his piece Dead Dad and begin to exhibit all over the world shortly after.

I have never seen his work in person so I am left to imagine their presence through photos. This creates an interesting perspective, where I need to find photos with spectators in them to give me an ideal of scale. In this the viewers become part of my experience of the work, and one can not easily say where the work ends and the rest of the world area begins.