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 work is part of the National Gallery of Victoria's Triennial.
As you have probably seen over the years, Mueck is known for his massive, hyperreal sculptures of people that sort of transcend the physical space of a gallery or museum. A gallery of his work is here. But where his past work seems to deal with the minutiae of life and aging, this work of 100 skulls seems to be a departure for Mueck, at least in a pure aesthetical discussion. As the museum notes, "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, Srebrenica and Iraq. 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. To draw out and contextualise these resonances, this monumental work has been placed within the historical collection galleries of NGV International."
The National Gallery of Victoria's Triennial will be on view in Melbourne through April 15, 2018.