Forms More Real Than Living Man
He will watch from dawn to gloom
…Nor heed, nor see, what things they be;
But from these create he can
Forms more real than living man…
– Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Prometheus Unbound”
‘Mask II’ by Ron Mueck
Today we went to an exhibition of the work of Australian-born hyper-realist sculptor Ron Mueck at the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne.
I’ve been a huge fan of Mueck’s work since my wife and I stumbled across his work “Ghost” in the Tate in 2000. This striking sculpture is so real that it could be taken for a real human being, frozen in time, if it were not that it was one and a half times normal size. It’s an image of an adolescent girl in a bathing costume, shrinking away from scrutiny – “Leave me alone!” you can almost hear her cry. Yet the audience cannot tear their eyes from her.
If Mueck were merely an incredibly talented model-maker, these works would be fascinating, but that’s all. Yet the realism of his sculpture, combined with huge variations of scale which he often employs, is often shocking; and each of his works is emotionally engaging, sometimes deeply so. There’s no doubt that these are true works of art.
Anyway, we visited the exhibition today and saw more of Mueck’s works “in the flesh” than I have ever managed before.
Here are some inadequate photos to illustrate what we saw. (Taken with my iPhone and enhanced with PhotoAcute software).
'In Bed' by Ron Mueck
'Woman with sticks' by Ron Mueck
'Wild Man' by Ron Mueck