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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Stuff from Last week: Ron Mueck at the National Gallery

Howdy!

I was surprised to see this article by Jocelyne Lepage in yesterday's La Presse. On Wednesday, I was in Ottawa to see the Ron Mueck show and it would have been nice to be able to put a face to a name. But I digress.

I need to stop getting all giddy and excited like a 14 year-old girl about certain exhibits. All that ends up happening is I end up leaving disappointed. It happened with the Brian Jungen show here last year, and to a certain extent it happened with Ron Mueck. This is not to say that the show wasn't amazing, spectacular and wonderful. It was amazing, spectacular and wonderful. I just wanted it to be more amazing, spectacular and wonderful than it was.

Basically, Mr. Mueck makes these sculptures of people in some not so standard poses. These sculptures are either bigger than life size, or smaller than life size. And these sculptures are pretty gosh darn realistic as well.

Upon seeing them, I was reminded by Susanna Greeves of Duane Hanson's work. And obviously there are similarities, but they don't amount to much. And then I thought of Michelangelo's David (even though I have never seen it) because to hear some people attempt to wax philosophic about Mr. Mueck's work you'd think you were seeing the second coming of Michelangelo's David. Personally, I think that there is more to the Michelangelo / Mueck comparison than there is to the Hanson / Mueck comparison, and not only because I thought of it myself.

Or if you want it spelled out, there's more similarities in making lifelike sculptures big than there is in just making lifelike sculptures. And while I realize the skill required to make small ones, I unfortunately have already had a McFarlane figurine grace my desk, and while it wasn't quite like Mr. Mueck's Mother and Child...

Ron Mueck, Mother and Child, 2001, Collection of the Robert Lehrman Art Trust, Courtesy of Aimee and Robert Lehrman, Washington, D.C.

It pretty much popped my cherry when it came to going 'oooooh!' and 'aaaaaaaah!' while viewing incredibly realistic sculptures. However, it was the really big ones that not only made me go 'oooooh!' and 'aaaaaaaah!' but also got me going back for seconds and thirds.

Ron Mueck, A Girl, 2006

Not only was there A Girl (who I heard someplace was 17 feet long, and looked every bit as angry in real life as she does in this picture, but there were also three other absolutely humongous sculptures that were almost as fascinating to me as A Girl.

If anyone is interested, the films that Mr. Mueck worked on can be found here. And if you want more pictures, of his work Flickr has a bunch tagged Mueck.

A couple of other things that caught my fancy while I was there, were that this exhibit is apparently the largest amount of Ron Mueck sculptures that have ever been seen and shown together. And while the Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain organized the exhibit, when it showed in Paris there were only five sculptures (Wild Man, In Bed, Mask III, A Girl, and either Spooning Couple, or Two Women)and as it went along it's merry way it picked up additional sculptures depending on who owned what, and as the National Gallery owns two pieces by Mr. Mueck... you can figure out the rest.

And I also got a chuckle out seeing how the Smithsonian has been able to bully absolutely everyone. The wall tag, the credits, and pretty much everything that accompanies this piece:

Ron Mueck, Untitled (Big Man), 2000, Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington (DC) Museum Purchase with funds provided by the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest and in honor of Robert Lehrman, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, 1997-2004, for his extraordinary leadership and unstinting service to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Has to have this text accompany it.
Ron Mueck, Untitled (Big Man), 2000, Courtesy of Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington (DC) Museum Purchase with funds provided by the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Bequest and in honor of Robert Lehrman, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, 1997-2004, for his extraordinary leadership and unstinting service to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Talk about making the art seem insignificant, that paragraph is almost bigger than the sculpture it needs to be attached to.

When you go, if you want to keep your sense of amazment intact, I strongly suggest avoiding the film at the end of the exhibit. It is a very thorough explanation of how Mr. Mueck makes the objects that he does, and went a long way towards diminishing the initial wonder and amazement I had upon walking in. On the other hand, if you want to make things like Ron Mueck makes, watch it, it is a very informative film.

The show is up until May 6, and worth every penny of the $11.90 (who makes up these prices anyhows?) that they'll want to charge you in order to see it.

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