Inspired by the complex biological structure of the human skull – which the artist considers beautiful and extraordinary – Ron Mueck’s new work Mass, 2016–17, celebrates a form that links us as a species. the skulls measure about 5 feet in height and the installation weighs a total of 5.5 tons. each duly hand-crafted,and cast in resin.
Mass is also a sombre study of mortality, and comprising 100 individual human skulls it calls to mind iconic images of massed remains in the Paris catacombs as well as the documentation of contemporary human atrocities in Cambodia, Rwanda, Armenia and Iraq. Bringing to live hyperrealistic sculptures on what remains long after the bodies have decayed.
Mueck had early success as part of the landmark 1997 exhibition Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection,
The skull has been a potent symbol within the art of virtually all cultures and religions, not least the Western history of art, including in Dutch still-life painting and the vanitas painting genre of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries which served as a reminder of the transience of life.
the Australian artist Ron Mueck known for his hyperrealistic sculptures, unveiled his largest installation yet with Mass, a collection of 100 monumental hand-cast skulls. Commissioned specially for the National Gallery of Victoria’s International Triennial, the imposing and ominous skulls pour through the galleries, each skull artfully placed into a tumbling mass.
“Mass intrudes into the 18th Century Galleries like a glacier inching across a landscape, crowding out the powdered, bewigged lords and ladies, a reminder of all our fates,” Mueck said.
To draw out and contextualise these resonances, this monumental work has been placed within the historical collection galleries of NGV International in Melbourne in 1958, Mueck has been based in the United Kingdom since 1986. He has explored the possibilities of the human form, first as a special-effects worker creating photorealistic props and animatronics for the film and advertising industries (under pioneering puppeteer Jim Henson), and later as an artist.
Mass is just one of the pieces in the inaugural Triennial, which is hosting 100 artists from 32 countries and runs through April 15, 2018.