Monday, January 08, 2007

Ron Mueck

Big Man by Ron Mueck

Great thing about living in New York? Free stuff. I went to the Target-sponsored First Night at the Brooklyn Museum last night and saw the Ron Mueck exhibit, which was absolutely astonishing. You could see every vein, crease, age spot, pimple, hair and mole in the bodies the Australian-born artist has created. These works remind me of Lucian Freud's paintings, set to life. The enormous Big Man, sitting in the corner looks like he could grow tired of your staring at any moment and rise to his feet to chase you out of the museum. Downstairs A Girl greets entrants, a newborn girl whose length is far greater than my own and whose head alone probably outweighs me. Nothing can prepare you for seeing those gigantic baby eyes peeking through heavy baby lids.

Elsewhere, the figures are much smaller. A tiny, but entirely realistic man seated in and swamped by a life-size rowboat. On the other side of the room, a similar-looking figure we learn is Mueck's father, depicted deceased, every facet of his small, thin graying body tenderly portrayed and utterly realistic. And I was surprised at how touching and thought-provoking the exhibit was. One piece depicts two tiny coffee-table size people spooning, both with their eyes open, perhaps unaware of the other's wakeful state, thinking their little private thoughts. I found it especially eerie and endearing, even saddening. If some critics disdain Mueck, I do think his work is imbued with a compelling sense of humanism. Or maybe I'm just reading that into it. If these creations are "just models," what would explain the complexity of emotion I felt when viewing them?

More: Wikipedia article on Ron Mueck

Sculpture article depicting Man in Boat and the development of Big Man.

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