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Ron Mueck

Associate Artist at the National Gallery between 2000 and 2002

Ron Mueck (b.1958, Melbourne, Australia) was an Associate Artist  for almost three years, moving into the artist’s studio in August 1999. He creates eerily realistic figurative sculptures that explore human psychology. Cast in silicone and acrylic, his works are celebrated for their incredibly lifelike detail. Through the manipulation of scale, Mueck reflects on universal feelings of compassion, vulnerability, fear, and loss.

Before working as an artist within the visual arts, Mueck worked for 20 years as a modelmaker for the special effects industry in Australia and the UK. He worked on numerous television, film and advertising projects, including Jim Henson’s children’s tv show 'The Muppets' and the cult science fiction movie 'Labyrinth' (1986.) Mueck first came to critical attention as a fine artist with his sculpture 'Dead Dad', a three-foot representation of the artist’s dead father. This piece was included in the era-defining group exhibition, 'Sensation: Works of Art from the Saatchi Collection', at the Royal Academy in 1997.

During his residency, he was drawn to the themes of birth and motherhood, which has been addressed by numerous artists in the collection. The sculptures that he created during his residency provided a contemporary perspective to these works, inviting National Gallery visitors to see the collection in a new way.  

Mueck’s residency culminated with the exhibition 'Ron Mueck: Making Sculpture', held in the Sunley Room between 19 March and 22 June 2003. This exhibition consisted of four sculptures related to the theme of childbirth and a display case of preparatory drawings, masks, and models. The four sculptures included in 'Making Sculpture' played with the viewer’s expectations of scale. The smallest sculpture in the exhibition was 'Swaddled Baby' (2002), a life-sized representation of a new-born baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, installed on a low plinth. This work was dwarfed by 'Pregnant Woman' (2002), an unnervingly lifelike eight-foot-tall model of a heavily pregnant naked woman.

Mueck’s work has since been included in the exhibition Sin, held at the National Gallery between 7 October 2020 and 3 January 2021, followed by an extensive tour of regional galleries around the UK In 2017, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston organised a comprehensive survey of Mueck’s work.