From June 8 to November 5, 2023, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain invited Australian artist Ron Mueck to exhibit an ensemble of sculptures previously unseen in France, along with iconic pieces from his career.
Visitors will discover his monumental installation Mass (2017), presented for the first time outside Australia, as well as new work created especially for the occasion which illustrates recent evolution in Mueck’s practice. The artist’s third exhibition at the Fondation Cartier continues a dialogue which first introduced French audiences to his rare and highly anticipated work in 2005.
Born in Melbourne in 1958 and living in the UK since 1986, Ron Mueck has developed a body of work which touches on the universal, and has profoundly renewed contemporary figurative sculpture.
His uncanny and convincing characters, always sculpted on an astonishing scale, take months, or sometimes years, to create. From a period of just over twenty five years his total oeuvre consists of 48 works, the most recent to be completed in time for this exhibition’s opening.
With this new exhibition, the Fondation Cartier is showcasing evolutions in Ron Mueck’s practice, continuing a dialogue sparked nearly twenty years ago. Since his beginnings in 1996, Mueck has produced a corpus of 48 works. As of 2023, over one-third of these have been exhibited at the Fondation Cartier.The exhibition will next be presented at Triennale Milano from December 2023 to March 2024, in the framework of the partnership between the Fondation Cartier and the Milan institution.
The presentation of Mass at Fondation Cartier provides the opportunity to see this monumental installation in the context of both earlier and more recent work, and to begin to see how Ron Mueck’s practice has evolved in recent years. Embracing a broadening realm of subject matter has led to an exploration of fresh ways of sculpting and presenting work. Within the large glass walled gallery on Boulevard Raspail, Mass, a work always intended to be re-configured in response to the character of each space, is seen for the first time both from outside through the full height windows, and from inside against the backdrop of lush foliage in the garden beyond. Mass silently responds to these environs to create an experience nestled in this time and place.
Mueck has always given us an immersive experience; the smallest of his sculptures drawing us in to an intimate and personal space, even in the crowded room of a busy exhibition. The tiny wall-hanging Baby seems to envelop us in its aura, whilst the colossal A Girl reaches out and demands the attention of the whole room. The recently completed, Untitled (Three Dogs) seems to take this one step further. With these confrontational animals, the paring back of surface detail in favour of a concentration on form and tension allows the immediacy of the first encounter to be maintained; that initial impact does not diffuse as we move closer and around.
With This Little Piggy, the first time Mueck has allowed the audience to witness a work in progress, we can see how stepping aside from this meticulous attention to surface detail might bring other possibilities.
Fondation Cartier have shown us an artist breaking new ground, but the exhibition also reveals a thorough continuity which allows us to see all of Mueck’s work with even greater clarity.
For the Ron Mueck exhibition being held from June 8 to November 5, 2023, the Fondation Cartier has commissioned a new film by French filmmaker and photographer Gautier Deblonde, who made Still Life: Ron Mueck at Work for the 2013 Fondation Cartier exhibition devoted to Mueck. This new work, shot over the course of several weeks in the privacy of the artist’s studio, documents the creation of two new works created especially for the exhibition.