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Ron Mueck at Fondation Cartier Pour l'Art Contemporain

Uncanny sculptures and a move toward closeness in the artist's latest work

by James Thorne in Culture on 15 April 2013

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Three new sculptures may not seem like much of an event, but for artist Ron Mueck—famous for a slow, deliberate process and mind-boggling attention to detail—it's cause for a major exhibition. A follow up to his 2005 show at Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain, Mueck has returned to the Parisian space with a series of his trademark hyperrealistic sculptures.

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The trio of new works, "Young Couple," "Woman with Shopping Bags" and "Couple under an Umbrella," collectively displays various kinds of intimate interpersonal relationships: a young couple embrace with a downcast expression; a shopping woman sandwiches an infant in her coat; an old man lies under a beach umbrella, his head resting on his wife's thigh. While the work departs from the mostly solitary figures of his past work, stylistically it's the same old Mueck—stimulating, uncanny and wonderful.

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Mueck's career began unceremoniously as a model-maker for children's television, later transitioning into advertising where he created photorealistic animatronics and props. Since moving to fine art, Mueck has produced some of the finest examples of contemporary sculpture. Meditating on the hair follicles, laugh lines and tonal variation of his lifelike works, viewers are struck with a sense of realism that transcends imitation. Frozen in an act, his characters are too real to be taken in—creating a mix of emotions that range from elation to terror.

In conjunction with the exhibition, French photographer Gautier Deblond is releasing a 50-minute documentary called "Still Life: Ron Mueck at Work" that gives a sense of the deliberation with which the artist works (part of the film is viewable in a short version). From the initial sketches to the layering of silicone skin in the mold, Deblond's lens is a rare and fascinating glimpse into Mueck's studio.

The exhibition will run 16 April through 29 September 2013. See more images of the artist's studio and process in our slideshow.

Images courtesy of Fondation Cartier pour l'art contemporain

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