Ron Mueck (b. 1958)
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM A DISTINGUISHED COLLECTION 
Ron Mueck (b. 1958)

Mother and Child

Ron Mueck (b. 1958)
Mother and Child
mixed media
9½ x 35 x 15in. (24 x 89 x 30cm.)
Executed in 2001-2003, this work is the artist's proof from an edition of one plus one artist's proof
Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2004.
P. Plagens and R. Sawhill, 'Less is Mueck', in Newsweek Online, 25 May 2001.
M. Kimmelman, 'Veering: From the End of Life to the Beginning with Lucidity and Awe', in The New York Times, 1 June 2001, p. 34.
J. Saltz, 'Like Life', in Village Voice, 12 June 2001 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 61).
E. Leffingwell, 'Ron Mueck at James Cohan' in Art in America, November 2001, p. 144-145.
R. C. Morgan, 'Ron Mueck: James Cohan Gallery', in Art Press, no. 271, 2001, p. 68.
J. Saltza, 'Like Life', in Village Voice, 5 June 2001 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 61).
T. Ingram, 'Australian artists soar on fresh appeal', in Australian Financial Review, 3 January 2002 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 39).
J. Herd, 'Australian artists soar on fresh appeal', in Australian Finacial Review, 3 January 2002, p. 12 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 13).
J. Morgan, 'Destination piece will be back to stay', in Sydney Morning Herald, 20 December 2002, p. 17.
A. Chrisafis, 'Pregnant Pause', in The Guardian, 18 March 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 13).
L. Cumming, 'Natal Attraction', in The Observer Review, 23 March 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 10).
M. Gayford, 'Umbilically Symbolic', in The Sunday Telegraph, 23 March 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 7).
W. Januszczak, '...Ron Mueck Sails into History...', in Sunday Times, 23 March 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 7).
H. Pietsch, 'Allein mit sich selbst' in Art, May 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 65).
R. Butler, 'Shock art: forget trying to work out what it means. Sensational art is getting back to basics', in Courier Mail, 22 February 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 1).
C. Darwent, 'It looks real: so why is it so spooky', in Independent, 23 March 2003, p. 8.
P. Hill, 'New model army', in Sydney Morning Herald- Metro, 3-9 January 2003, p. 23.
B. James, 'Stand and deliver', in Sydney Morning Herald, 1 January 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 18).
R. Leydier, 'Le réalisme de Ron Mueck/Ron Mueck's psychological realism', in Art Press, no. 288, 2003, pp. 24-28 (another from the edition illustrated).
C. Martin, 'Ron Mueck: technical mastery and the human condition, in Art & Australia, vol. 40, no. 4, 2003, pp. 568 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 569).
J. McDonald, 'It's all in the detail: Ron Mueck: the lure of the hyperreal', in Australian Financial Review, 30 January 2003, p. 48.
J. Russell Taylor, 'All Mueck and magic' in Times-T2, 19 March 2003, p. 15.
S. Tanguay, 'The progress of big man: a conversation with Ron Mueck', in Sculpture, vol. 22, no. 6, 2003, pp. 28 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 33).
C. Wiggins, 'Pregnant Pauses', in Art Review, vol. 54, 2003, pp. 92-95.
D. Ebony, J. Harris, F. Richard, M, Schwendener, S. Valdez and L. Yablonsky, Curve: the Female Nude Now, exh. cat., New York, New York University, 2003 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 150).
C. Chapman, 'Naked ambition', in Artlook, June 2004, p. 9.
H. Bastian (ed.), Ron Mueck, Ostfildern-Ruit 2005, no. 31 (illustrated in colour, p. 81, another from the edition illustrated in colour, pp. 28 and 78).
R. Rosenblum, Ron Mueck, exh. cat., Paris, Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain, 2005, pp. 54, 58, 76 and 111 (another from the edition illustrated, pp. 66-67).
C. Raine, 'The body beautiful', in Guardian, 12 August 2006, p. 12. K. Hartley, Ron Mueck, Edinburgh 2006, p. 10.
J. Prieto, 'Ron Mueck', in Arte y Parte, no. 68, 2007, p. 95.
S. Greeves and C. Raine, Ron Mueck: a Girl, exh. cat., Santander, Gestiòn Cultural y Communicacón, 2007, pp. 74, 76-77 and 308 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 63).
R. Mueck, C. Raine, K. Funakoshi and D. Murata, Ron Mueck, exh. cat., Tokyo, Foil, 2008, p. 68 (another from the edition illustrated, p. 29).
D. Hurlston, Ron Mueck, New Haven 2011 (another from the edition illustrated in colour, p. 153).
New York, James Cohan Gallery, Ron Mueck, 2001 (another from the edition exhibited).
Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art, Ron Mueck: Sculpture, 2002-2003.
Berlin, Neue Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnof, Museum für Gegenwart, Ron Mueck: Hyperreal, 2003 (another from the edition exhibited).
London, National Gallery, Ron Mueck, Making Sculpture at the National Gallery, 2003-2004 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, pp. 10-11, 24-27 and 64). This exhibition later travelled to Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art and Haarlem, De Hallen (Frans Hals Museum).
Boston, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Getting Emotional, 2005 (illustrated in colour, pp. 106-107).
Ontario, National Gallery of Canada, Ron Mueck, 2007.
Southhampton, New York, Parrish Art Museum, All the More Real: Portrayals of Intimacy and Empathy, 2007.
Ontario, National Gallery of Canada, Real Life: Ron Mueck and Guy Ben-Ner, 2008 (another from the edition exhibited, illustrated, p. 4).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 20% on the buyer's premium.

Brought to you by

Louisa Robertson
Louisa Robertson

Lot Essay

Executed in 2001-2003, Mother and Child is a flawless, hyper-real sculpture by Ron Mueck, offering a spellbinding and profound meditation on the nature of motherhood, childhood and the female body in pregnancy. The second from an edition of two sculptures, Mother and Child was first conceived for Mueck's major retrospective at the National Gallery in London in 2003, which travelled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. The present artist's proof was exhibited at the British Museum, London in 2008, whilst the first edition now resides in the Museum Brandhorst, Munich. Mother and Child with its staggering verisimilitude brilliantly captures the emotional and physical atmosphere of a first meeting between parent and baby. Anxiously peering over her swollen, mother's bosom, the woman gazes at her newborn infant, still bound to her by the vital, life-sustaining, but now redundant umbilical chord. The child rests on her belly, fingers and toes, small arms and legs curled beneath it, whilst its eyes are crumpled tightly shut. Indignant to the bright light of its new world, the baby laments the loss of the warm mother's womb, apparently crying, but inaudibly. Beads of perspiration have gathered on the woman's chest, drawn out through the physical exertion of labour, whilst the child glistens, hair still damp from its passage through the birth canal. Mueck attends to every feature with the utmost of devotion, turning to the eyes as the very final but most important detail. For each, he elaborates the layers of the eye, from transparent lens to coloured iris, to dark pupil. In Mother and Child, the woman's deep brown, liquid eyes are somehow sentient, giving true meaning to the old adage: 'the eyes are the window of the soul.' The first sculpture to depict two interacting figures, both mother and child have a potent sense of their own characters. As Susana Greeves has noted, 'the child already has a free will, an independence that casts the act of leaving its mother's womb as the first stage of a journey that will inevitably end with the child leaving its mother as adulthood is attained' (S. Greeves & C. Wiggins (eds.), Ron Mueck, exh. cat., National Gallery, London 2003, p. 25).

Mueck first rose to real prominence in 1997 with Dead Dad (1996), exhibited in the pioneering show, Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection at the Royal Academy of Arts. In the work, Mueck creates a sculptural farewell to his father, who appears a fraction of human height, unclothed, lying supine, his deathly pallor and deeply mortal flesh offered up with barefaced honesty. Through a combination of his small form and solitude, Dead Dad encourages empathy, tenderness and curiosity, operating as a process of catharsis and self-reflection for both the artist and the viewer. In Big Baby (1996), another early work from the artist's oeuvre, the child's curiosity, ebullience and lack of self-consciousness, is mirrored in its amplified and larger-than-life size, the baby happily seated on his plump, bare bottom, folding his flushed, chubby hands over his small round toes. In Mueck's unique, sculptural vernacular, scale resonates with the emotional timbre of the subject. In Mother and Child, the small sculpture, under a meter in length, imports the initial shock and recognition of the great responsibility that attends motherhood. Scaled closely to Dead Dad, it is a logical complement, reflecting the very beginning of the life cycle, just as Dead Dad marks its end.

The first work made specifically for Mueck's exhibition at the National Gallery, Mother and Child enters a dialogue with the great depictions of the Virgin Mary and the infant Christ housed in the museum's permanent collection. In preparation for the present work, Mueck carefully considered these paintings, looking closely at the Flemish Virgin and Child in an Interior (c. 1432) from the workshop of Robert Campin. Mueck was fascinated by the tiny resolution of the painting, realised on an oak panel of under twenty centimeters in height, as well as the unconventional angle and attitude of the Christ child to his mother. The holy infant appears self-possessed and sanctified, distinctly 'un-babylike' as he looks to his mother with holy compassion. Whilst Mueck's Mother and Child enters this tradition, his sculpture captures a moment long avoided by Christian art. As Susanna Greeves has pointed out, 'when Mary and the newborn Christ Child are depicted, the two characters are usually shown as having already formed a bond: either the conventional mother-and-child relationship of mutual affection and care, or a demonstration of religious devotion. Mueck's sculpture shows the mother-child bond being formed in front of our eyes: the child arrived just seconds ago' (S. Greeves & C. Wiggins (eds.), Ron Mueck, exh. cat., National Gallery, London 2003, p. 24).

It is this deeply private moment that we are invited to survey in Mother and Child, looking almost guilty with uninhibited access at the most intimate anatomy of the female body. Looking and engaging closely with her exposed figure, we suspend our disbelief for a moment. It is in these moments that we really feel the full extent of Mueck's brilliance. The artist does not satisfy himself just with beautifully rendered sculptures of how people look, but of how people feel as humans: being born, giving birth, losing a loved one, dying and all the milestones in between. Often included in the pantheon of 'hyper-real' sculptors such as Charles Ray, Robert Gober and Duane Hanson, Mueck is differentiated from his colleagues by the unique depth of spirit he activates in his art. It is as if, when turning our backs, the baby might begin to cry, wriggling on the hilt of the distended belly, or the mother start to speak, the blankness of shock giving way to a cavalcade of emotion.

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