Body + mind

Ron Mueck is known for painstakingly crafted true-to-life figures using fine detail and precise technique. Yet the works are not simply an attempt to reproduce reality, instead, they experiment with size and scale.

Observable characteristics of the face and body are also shaped to offer a more complex picture of what is taking place within the subject’s head, reflecting a psychological state or mood. Mueck explains: ‘Although I spend a lot of time on the surface, it’s the life inside that I want to capture’.

With Old woman in bed, the use of a pedestal encourages us to peer down at a tiny body, hovering between life and death. The scale and composition draw attention to the disjunction between viewer and subject. Another work addressing the life cycle, the towering Pregnant woman, conveys the intense physicality of maternity, while her closed eyes suggest an inward focus. 

Wild man appears physically and emotionally exposed. Mueck was inspired to make the work after seeing an illustration of a colossal stone sculpture of a hirsute river god, Appennino 1579–80 by Renaissance artist Giambologna. The ‘wild man’, typically, is a reclusive individual, fearful of human society, and Mueck expresses this as a naked, vulnerable body, rigid with tension, muscles tightened in fear.