"Although I spend a lot of time on the surface, it's the life inside I want to capture."
(Ron Mueck, 1998)
London-based sculptor Ron Mueck is known for his startlingly realistic yet enigmatic sculptures that portray humans at key stages in the life cycle, 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 feelings of loneliness, vulnerability and alienation.
The son of German-born toymakers, 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. He worked in Australia, Los Angeles and London. 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 the 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. 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."
In 2000, Mueck became the fifth Associate Artist at the National Gallery in London.
Mueck's maintains an extremely high standard of craftsmanship, beginning with clay maquettes and sculpting in fibreglass, silicone and resin. Mueck's 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. With the oversized A Girl (2006), Mueck emphasizes the strangeness and assertiveness of a newborn.
Ron Mueck has held solo exhibitions in London, New York, Sydney and Ottawa, and participated in many international group exhibitions, including the 2001 Venice Biennale.