Hyperventilating Over Hyperrealism

The other day, I read a brief article in The Huffington Post about the art of Ron Mueck, an Australian sculptor currently working in London,  Nude Sculptures By Ron Mueck Bring Hyperrealism To A Whole Other Level.

Ron Mueck

Ron Mueck

I was fortunate to see the exhibit of his sculptures at the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh in 2006. Truth be told, I was not prepared for the visual assault that lay in wait for me.

Periodically, I had to remind myself to adjust my face into a semblance of an expression that, hopefully, could be taken (or mistaken) for a semi-intelligent face of a person viewing an art exhibition rather than that of a dumbfounded person hit over the head with unanticipated suddenness.

In Bed 2005

In Bed 2005

Slowly moving along the sculpture of the woman “In Bed”, I remember feeling an unequivocally weird desire to knock at the white expanse of the sheet just to hear the hollow sound of empty space under it… only to convince myself that there are no bent knees under it.


Wild Man (2005)

The Wild Man (2005) is naked, hairy and very large. The giant, he is imposing by size only. His face is frightened and his pose is that of a man cringing in terror. The sculptor  shocks us into reassessing ourselves in our existential nakedness.

When asked, “How and when did you get the idea of manipulating scale with your figures?” Ron Mueck answered, “I never made life-size figures because it never seemed to be interesting. We meet life-size people every day.”

The Edinburgh’s exhibit that I visited was the first showing of A Girl (2006).

A Girl (2006)

A Girl (2006)

Speak of engaging the viewer’s rapt attention! Hands and arms held down beside her body, her head stretched out towards the viewer, the baby seems to be testing out the space she occupies in the world. In fact, the pose is quite unnatural for the infant — normally a baby would hold its hands towards its face, but Mueck wants to suggest the assertiveness of the new life force, says the booklet I’ve got at the exhibition. Whether the artist wanted to suggest exactly this or something entirely different is up to the author of this passage  (Keith Hartley) to know and up to us — to take his word for it.


Untitled (Big Man), 2000.

Views of the work in progress and detail of the Big Man.

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Hyperrealism has its roots in the philosophy of Jean Baudrillard, “the simulation of something which never really existed.” As such, Hyperrealists create a false reality, a convincing illusion based on a simulation of reality, the definition says. How fully this definition applies to the art of Ron Mueck (and other artists called hyperrelists) is the matter of opinion and, again, the matter of definition.

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The works of other hyperrealists, such as Evan Penny, Jamie Salmon, Duane Hanson and others I’ve found on this site.


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