‘People in all their variations and similarities are pretty fascinating. Occasionally, some of these aspects come into focus...and I think maybe I could capture that.’
Australian-born, London-based artist Ron Mueck is internationally recognised for his highly realistic figure sculptures.
In the history of art, figure sculptures have often reflected an interest in idealised physical beauty. By contrast, Mueck’s subjects are ordinary people, often in vulnerable states. His subjects have included newborn babies, a pregnant woman and middle-aged men.
In Two women, Mueck has depicted two old women huddled together in conversation. The women’s attention is focused on something we can only assume is the subject of their chatter. Mueck has described the old women in incredible detail: thick stockings, heavy overcoats, sensible flat shoes, wispy grey hair and thin wrinkled skin are all represented with lifelike accuracy.
While based on close observation of real life, Mueck’s sculptures do more than mimic visual appearances. They have an emotional intensity which is conveyed through expressive devices including gestures, poses and facial expression.
Scale adds significantly to the emotional and visual impact of Mueck’s work. His figures are small in scale or monumental – never life-size. This concentrates or magnifies the emotional states represented in the work.
Mueck’s working process involves many stages. He prepares drawings of his subject which are used to make a clay model. This model is then used to make a mould. The mould is used to cast the sculpture, usually in fibreglass or silicon. Details such as glass eyes, hair and clothing are added later.