Ron Mueck’s arresting, hyperrealistic sculptures have made their way to the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
Works by the Australian artist are known for their keen attention to detail and unusual, disconcerting scale.
“When you see reproductions, you think they are life-size, and when you actually see the works, they are much larger than life-size or much smaller,” said Alison de Lima Greene, curator of contemporary art at MFAH. “You feel a little bit like Alice having fallen down the rabbit hole. There is a certain surreal quality to the works that contradicts the realism of the actual artwork.”
As an artist, Mueck has dedicated his career to exploring the cycle of life. His art takes viewers through different stages of existence—from birth to death—and showcases salient details: a five- o’clock shadow, wrinkles, after-birth, wounds. In Mueck’s world, adults are swaddled like babies and some babies are as big as giants.
“I think artists are asking a lot of the same questions a doctor does about the meaning of a body, and they are willing to scrutinize it uncompromisingly,” de Lima Greene said. “Ron Mueck has an extremely nuanced and careful understanding of anatomy, and after working on a sculpture, he will make it as absolutely realistic as possible, and then he will do something to make it a little bit less real.”
To showcase Mueck’s work in a distinctive way, de Lima Greene has designed the exhibit to emphasize different moments in life, rather than highlight the progression from youth to old age.
“I wanted to focus on the stages of life, not just aging necessarily,” she said. “We are not going to install it as from infancy to death, but I wanted those to be things for people to recollect as they walk through the exhibition. We want the imagery to echo in memory rather than to be a straightforward narrative.”
Ron Mueck will be on display in the Audrey Jones Beck Building at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 5601 Main Street, through Aug. 13. Information: 713-639-7300 or mfah.org.
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