Ron Mueck's Hyperrealistic Sculptures Must Be Seen To Be Believed

Mask II, 2001-2002 | © Beatriz Ferreira de Assis/Flickr
Mask II, 2001-2002 | © Beatriz Ferreira de Assis/Flickr
Photo of Monique La Terra
11 November 2016

Born in Melbourne in 1958 to German toymakers, Ron Mueck began his career as a model maker and puppeteer for children’s television shows and films including Shirl’s Neighbourhood, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and Jim Henson’s Labyrinth. In 1996, a collaboration with his mother-in-law led him to create Dead Dad –a silicone and mixed media depiction of the corpse of his father shrunk to approximately two-thirds of its natural scale. This piece set the standard for every sculpture to come – all of which distort size and present a hyperrealistic analysis of the human body. Now based in the United Kingdom, Ron Mueck continues to create and exhibit confronting sculptures that depict the human form in enormous detail, illustrating the rawness of the human lifecycle. While some artists present a world of escapism, Ron Mueck doesn’t shy away from rendering brutally truthful representations of everyday people.

Boy, 1999, is a five-metre-high sculpture of a crouching boy which has become the centrepiece of the art museum ARoS in Denmark.

Boy, 1999 | © Mark B. Schlemmer/Flickr

Big Man, 2000, portrays a nearly seven-foot-high naked and hairless sitting man. Designed to sit in the corner of a room, the sculpture appears pugnacious.

Big Man, 2000 | © Javier Ignacio Acuña Ditzel/Flickr

Mask II, 2001-2, is the head of a sleeping man, Mueck’s own, lying on its side.

Mask II, 2001-2002 | Ron Mueck © Beatriz Ferreira de Assis

Man in a Boat, 2002, depicts a one-third-scale naked man seated in a four-metre boat.

Man in a Boat, 2002 | © Wald1siedel/WikimediaCommons

Two Women, 2005, portrays a pair of elderly women huddling together, protecting themselves from the cold, with faces painted with suspicion, disdain and vulnerability. This piece is owned by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.

Two Women, 2005 | © Fernando de Sousa/Flickr

In Bed, 2005, is a sculpture of a huge woman lying in bed with a sheet over her body. Her hand rests on her face, in a contemplative mood.

In bed, 2005 | © Alexandre van de sande/Flickr

Wild Man, 2005, is a nine-foot sculpture of a naked and heavily bearded man who appears fearful.

Wild Man, 2005 | © Marc Tarlock/Flickr
Detail of Wild Man, 2005 | © Fernando de Sousa/Flickr

A Girl, 2006, shows a newborn baby girl the size of a car splattered with blood and with an attached umbilical cord.

A Girl, 2006 | © annulla/flickr

Standing Woman, 2007, is a four-metre-high woman dressed in black who seems to observe onlookers below.

Standing Woman, 2007 | © Herry Lawford/Flickr

Drift, 2009, is a two-thirds-scale sculpture of a man floating on his back on an inflatable pool lounge. The sculpture, which is placed on a blue wall, provides viewers with the illusion of seeing this man from high above.

Drift, 2009 | © Fernando de Sousa/Flickr

Young Couple, 2013, is a small representation of a teenage couple, dressed in casual clothing. The boy is tenderly but cautiously holding the girl.

Young Couple (front), 2013 | Ron Mueck © Beatriz Ferreira de Assis/Flickr