The Hyper-realism of Mueck

So I am neither an art critic, or an artist. But, on Friday, after a fantastic art filled day with my good friend HipMamaJen, I decided to write a short blog about Ron Mueck and the fantastic exhibition now on tour in Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts.




Years ago when I was at home in Sydney, Australia, I had the pleasure of seeing some of Mueck’s work in the Art Gallery of NSW. The most memorable piece was this beauty here (it’s an old pic so not so clear):



So, when I heard that some of his work was at the Museum of Fine Arts downtown, I had to go. And after a tough week, who better than to coerce into coming with me than HipMamaJen (of course this meant that I only had to ask if she had anything on that day- hardly an arm twisting ordeal). Down to Houston we went.

If you’ve never seen Mueck’s work then what you’ll need to know is that it is:

  1. Hyper-realistic.
  2. A twist on the scale of size
  3. Often depicting some kind of vulnerability or raw emotion

What this means for his art is that the sculptures that he creates are either smaller or bigger than life size, and that they focus on the nuances of the human body as it is (there are wrinkles, tears, blood, genitalia, hair, skin puckers, bruises, etc).

Here are some examples:



The art is about the body, in all of it’s glory. But more than that it is also often about the relationships and connections that we have with each other, and also about the  expression of vulnerable emotion.



Two works showing women with their babies, certainly seem to highlight the fundamental human connection that we have with each other. The mother with the shopping bags appears tired, mundane even, in her actions. But the baby that she carries looks at it’s mother with awe.




‘Mother and Child,’ anatomically graphic in nature, shows one of the most defining moments of life, and the most visceral connection between a mother and a child.



But, otherwise, there is also this lovely couple, forever embracing.



One of my favorite pieces from this particular collection was ‘Two Women.’ When approaching the work, the two women appear to be in cohorts with each other, leaning toward each other conspiratorially. However, they never touch. Instead, (for me at least), it was disconcerting to approach them; their looks of suspicion penetrating the ‘Fourth Wall,’  and peering out at the watcher.



There were also pieces of the collection on show that were larger than life. Take this one which was actually called ‘Still Life.’




From Mueck’s Mask series, ‘Mask 2.’




This couple:




And of course the larger than life newborn, ‘Girl.’





My favorite ended up being this one, ‘Youth.’ There was something in the detail of the man’s hands and his facial expressions that spoke to me above all other works in this exhibition. The attention to detail in the muscles, bones and lines on the face, as well as the man’s feet, were amazing.





So, final consensus is that the exhibition is well worth a view. HipMamaJen and I made a great day of it. $18 got us a ticket to the exhibit and to the museum’s general exhibits too. Then we followed up with a fabulous Cuban lunch at El Rey Taqueria and then because we like to live life on the edge a nice glass of wine.

This was a much needed day of recuperation and fabulous leisure for us both.


Since then I happened to take a quick look in our library and also noticed these little gems…..



With an introduction by former Director, Peter C. Marzio this volume is a cataloged version of the permanent works of art contained in the Museum of Fine Arts with a synopsis of each piece. For regular visitors to the museum, this book gives a wonderful overview of some of it’s greatest works. Categorized into the museum’s respective collections, the book its a great resource for visitors (particularly if you have a favorite piece or collection that you’d like to know more about). It is heavy (so not particularly practical for dragging around the museum with you), but nevertheless, the images within are very clear and give a great description.


The second book:



Likewise compiled by former Director, Peter C. Marzio, this later edition is a descriptive work of Marzio’s most favorite works. And make no mistake they are beautiful. This tome is also heavy and therefore a read-at-home before or after the fact. It’s once again a great overview of some of the most famous works, with beautiful images to accompany. Well worth taking a view to find out more about the art itself. The book is not classified by collection, but rather serves as a volume in which Marzio discusses his favorites. As an FYI, if you do visit the museum, do take a look at The Light Inside by James Turrell. It is featured on the cover of this work, but is far more aesthetically interactive in person.


I hope that you can find these works in your library and that you do take a moment to visit the museum, if not for Mueck’s exhibition, then for the permanent collection alone.





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