This week, the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh opens a huge Ron Mueck exhibition. As BB readers know, Mueck creates incredibly detailed sculptures of hyperreal figures. (Previous BB posts about Mueck here and here.) From an article in The Telegraph (photo by Gautier Deblonde/Anthony d'Offay Gallery):
The studio is a workshop packed with tools and equipment, some of which Mueck has invented for his own ends. Scattered on the floor were anatomical text books, photography, hair pieces and bits and bobs of semblances of human anatomy. The pinboard displayed shots of babies' faces, mythological creatures, grotesque faces, cartoon-like figures, and close-ups of eyeballs. Susanna Greeves, a former director of the Anthony d'Offay Gallery, who has worked with the artist for many years, says that Mueck 'lavishes extraordinary care on hand-making his model's eyes in many stages, building up a transparent lens over a coloured iris and deep black pupil. When he finally inserts them, the effect is startling...'Link to Telegraph article, Link to National Galleries of Scotland site (via We Make Money Not Art)
Advances in technology have enhanced his technique, but much of his actual process has been used by sculptors down the ages. He makes plaster maquettes to test ideas, does drawings of various sizes and takes decisions on the scale of the piece. He then sculpts the figure in clay with all the lifelike touches that will appear in the final sculpture. A mould is made of the clay figure and he casts it out in fibreglass resin and silicone. The skin of his figures, which tempts people to peer at it to see if it could be real, is built up from layers of silicone. The lower layers are impregnated with pigment, resulting in a finish that has the slight transparency of the real thing. Each hair is sewn by hand.