PaperCity Magazine

March 2017 - Houston

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98 T he Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, has just mounted some of the most charis- matic figuration on the planet. London- based, Australian-born Ron Mueck's hyper-real sculptures chal- lenge the viewer to look closely at issues of humanity and mortality. In both gargantuan and diminutive scale, their verisimilitude is astounding, down to hair strands and follicles of skin. This Alice in Wonderland-meets-Gulliver's Travels sensitivity dates back to the artist's child- hood in Melbourne, where his German émigré parents taught him the family biz of puppetry and toy making. Mueck's first career was as a model maker for film and TV; his wizardry with animatron- ics early on can be seen in such seminal Jim Henson films as Labyrinth (1986) and The Storyteller series (1987). But his big break in the art world happened a decade later, when he was one of the standout artists in the still-talked-about "Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection" at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. International recognition ensued; he stole the show at the 2001 Venice Biennale for his super-sized crouching boy, which became the poster child for that edition of the biennial. Now the MFAH's modern and contemporary curator, Alison de Lima Greene, has orga- nized a blockbuster unique to the U.S., fresh from the artist's recent global tour, which landed his unsettling sculpture at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, as well as museum venues in Brazil, Argentina, and Finland. Houston audiences will see 13 works, approximately a third of the artist's creations to date. While one might make comparisons to a talent from an earlier generation — Duane Hanson and his convincingly real Pop sculptures, laced with humor — Mueck's works, darker and with shifts of scale, conjure a different take on our universe, one in touch with these Trumpian times. "Ron Mueck," through May 29, Catherine D. Anspon SUPER REALISTIC MAN The Mansion dining room circa 1980, when the restaurant first opened to the public Clockwise from above: Ron Mueck's Two Women, 2005, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. Collection Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman, New York. Courtesy FLAG Art Foundation. Photo Patrick Gries. © Ron Mueck. Mueck's Couple under an Umbrella, 2013, at MFAH. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Photo Patrick Gries. © Ron Mueck. Mueck's Mask II, 2001–02, at MFAH. Collection San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. © Ron Mueck.

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