Posted by: brentatent12 | September 13, 2009

Focus on a Work of Art

Ron Mueck's Untitled (Big Man)

Ron Mueck's Untitled (Big Man)

Ron Mueck’s Big Man was a piece which I found particularly disturbing.  What caught my eye was just how grotesque and almost distorted it was.  I’m not sure if distorted is the best word to use to describe it—it’s enormous, and hideous in my opinion.  Not only that, but it looks sad or somber, almost as if it realizes just how revolting it is to behold.  Also, it kind of reminded me of a prison inmate, just listlessly sitting there against a wall with his big bald head displayed prominently for all to see.  It looks like he’s pondering something, not quite like The Thinker, but a much more trivial matter—perhaps why he is so obese, or maybe it’s what his next meal is going to be?

The Thinker

The Thinker

After doing some research into Mueck, I figured out that the Big Man was not the first of his strange creations.  He has also worked on such pieces as a baby, stuck to a wall as if he was being crucified, and a frail old woman who is curled in the fetal position under a blanket.  He created the Big Man toward the beginning of his two year residency as Associate Artist at the National Gallery in London.  He got the idea from a life drawing class that he did a drawing in.  He wondered how a sculpture he was working on would look different if he based it on a model instead of his usual photographs or references from books.  Ultimately, he decided upon the pose of the man because he thought it looked better then the “…phony and unnatural.” posses models generally strike.

Ron Mueck tries to create sculptures which provoke thought.  He likes them to have ‘presence’ instead of just being yet another sculpture.  He wants people to really contemplate them instead of just glancing at them briefly.  He says, “I don’t think of them as mannequins… But ultimately, they’re fiberglass objects that you can pick up and carry. If they succeed as fun things to have in the room, I’m happy.”  He goes on to say he wouldn’t be satisfied unless they had presence.  Although Mueck certainly does ‘interesting’ work, it’s not something that I really enjoy.  It’s very visually disturbing, and because of this, I’d prefer a different from of modern art, equally thought provoking, just in a different way.




  1. In opposition to your seeing of the Big Man as grotesque and distorted, I found him to be amazing and extremely realistic. While his look/emotion could be considered embarassment, I read him more as defensive and shy due to his fetal position and the way he seems to avoid everyone’s eyes. I think it would be better if you could identify the root of your disgust with the piece, because that is the first time I’ve heard someone their reaction to him as disgust. More often the response is shock, awe, or “man, that is weird.” I saw one man’s changing responses to it while at the Hirshhorn. At first he said to his girlfriend “I’m sorry, that’s weird. It’s killing me.” But then a few minutes later I saw him lead his girlfriend back to examine it some more and his reaction changed to “So real, down to the veins. It’s amazing!”
    I find it really interesting that the artist said that his pieces are incomplete without a presense, because the presense and and reality of Big Man is what I found so captivating about him.

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