Image: Ron Mueck and the invasion of the 100 giant skulls
Image: Ron Mueck at the Triennale di Milano. Courtesy Triennale di Milano. Photo: © Gautier Deblonde, DACS/Artimage 2024..
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Ron Mueck and the invasion of the 100 giant skulls At the Triennale Milano the first solo show in Italy of the former Young British Artist, who abandoned the lenticular rendering of details to focus on the tension of multiple figures

4 December 2023


'These skulls were people. People like us. It is us'. Ron Mueck, the author of the shocking installation 'Mass,' thus explains the anguish generated by this colossal work of his, the nucleus of the solo show (the first in Italy) which opens from 5 December 2023 to 10 March 2024 in the Triennale Milano. Seventh exhibition organized within the eight-year collaboration signed by the Milanese institution with Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain in Paris, the exhibition which, albeit in a different form, debuted last June in Paris, is curated by Hervé Chandès, director of the Parisian Foundation, with Charlie Clarke (Ron Mueck studio) and Chiara Agradi (Fondation Cartier).

To Milan he brings six sculptures by the Australian-born artist, British by choice of life (born in Melbourne in 1958, has lived and worked in the United Kingdom since 1986) with the gigantic installation «Mass» (2017), commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria of Melbourne: 100 sculptures depicting colossal skulls, in dialogue with the Triennale space, of whose disturbing power the author is well aware: 'At the same time familiar and exotic, he comments, the skull disgusts and fascinates at the same time. It is impossible to ignore, it requires our attention on a subconscious level.' The same attention made of hypnotic attraction and terror is generated by «En garde» (2023), a pack of threatening dogs almost three meters tall, whose bodies are crossed by a palpable tension and fury, while in «This Little Piggy» (2023, ongoing), a much smaller sculpture inspired by the novel Pig Earth (1979) by John Berger, a group of men seems to be attacking a pig.

These recent works show the course correction given by Mueck to his work: abandoning the lenticular rendering of the details of the skin, hair and clothes of isolated figures, returned with that repelling hyperrealism which earned him fame in 1997, when he exhibited Royal Academy of Arts in London in «Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection» (the founding exhibition of Young British Art), Mueck now prefers to focus his attention on the form and tension that manifests itself in sculptures of multiple figures.

To document the previous journey, allowing a close comparison between the two methods, the small 'Baby' (2000) is on display, a newborn baby who, displayed on the wall, looks like a tiny crucifix; the colossal «In Bed» (2005, Fondation Cartier collection), with the thoughtful woman under the sheets, and the tiny «Woman with Sticks» (2009, also by Fondation Cartier), with the figure of a naked woman with silky skin , arched to support the weight of the bundle of branches it is carrying.

With the updated edition of the catalog raisonné of Ron Mueck's work (published by Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain), the exhibition is accompanied by the two films «Still Life: Ron Mueck at Work» (2013) and «Three Dogs, a Pig and a Crow» (2023) by Gautier Deblonde and a busy Public Program.

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