Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Simple Giants

       Something incredibly profound was brewing in Ron Mueck's head while he made models and acted as a puppeteer for children's television shows. He has been sculpting these larger than life figures since 1996. He fashions them out of silicone, fiberglass, and resin to create the hyper-real likeness of human beings.
       Mueck was born in Australia to toy makers. Growing up, he made models to be photographed. He ended up keeping many of them and eventually created them because he wanted to photograph them from a particular angle. Sometimes the sculpture would be gnarled and unfinished just outside the focus of the lens.
      Collins & Amabile's writing on intrinsic motivation can be seen at play in the changes Mueck made in his career. He stopped photographing all together because he didn't like the idea of his models from only one angle. This gave him the freedom to create whatever he wanted on the scale he envisioned. Instead of forming his models for the camera, he threw the camera away and did what gave him satisfaction. His work is made to be seen in real life, but these photos help is see the scale in which he created these works and the painstaking detail he put into them. In a way, the camera hindered his work because, as is written Collins & Amabile, it provided constant evaluation and a neediness for his work to fit the dimensions of the camera. When he put aside the photography, he gained new perspective on scale and variety.

       Mueck fits interestingly into Gladwell's article regarding the age of production for creative geniuses. Like Cézanne, Mueck created brilliant work well into his forties and fifties. He actually did not begin the sculpting shown below, for which he is famous, until later in his life and well past the prime thought essential in Gladwell's article to produce genius works of art. As further discussed in Gladwell's article, Mueck seems to have found his way, not through a process of trials and experiments that so repulsed Picasso, but through a search for what seemed right to him. He began in an area relatively related to what he does now: model building, working with puppets, photographing. But he knew that what he created could not remain merely to be photographed, so he moved on from that. It's like he was searching for that something, which did not look structured or planned. It was more trial and error, a process illustrated by many great artists like Cézanne and Mark Twain. Like these artists, it's not that Mueck's creative genius was dormant until he created these wonders, but that his search landed on something that much of the world had not seen yet.

       I place the work of Ron Mueck in the category of a big C creative. Not only are the works he's done on such a grand scale, but they are of the seemingly most ordinary things. The simply, yet extraordinarily detailed bodies of the men and women are so life-like. It's interesting to me that Mueck has created these huge images of daily people. They do not liken to societal norms of beauty that sells; they are raw in their humanness. The image of the little boy is striking in that the innocent, yet curious stance of a young boy is magnified, perhaps to indicate the meaningfulness of these kinds of small moments. These works are also original, not only in their denial of anything but gritty human realness, in that they do not represent coveted or conventionally prized things of the world. They are free from that.

1 comment:

  1. I'm always fascinated by hyper-realistic artwork, mainly because I find it hard to wrap my brain around how something can look so real when it so clearly is not. I found it interesting how Mueck became internally motivated to make his sculptures in a sense, more real. When we look at a recreation of something in a photograph or on film, we are distanced from it. It is easier to accept it as it is, from the angle that the artist wants us to see. By making his sculptures art in themselves, he allows the public to take them in from each and every angle, and to notice the craftsmanship behind them. The fact that he continues to make these despite his age is also incredible. I would imagine that they are painstaking to make, which makes them even more awe-striking. I agree with you in classifying him as a big C. He has taken ordinary details and presented them as they are, without romanticizing them or attempting to make them into something more than themselves. Real humanness is rarely presented this way in the art world.


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