The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain invites 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.
In its scale and ambition, the monumental installation Mass is the centrepiece of the exhibition and represents a milestone in the artist’s career. Commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne, Australia) in 2017, Mass comprises one hundred giant human skulls piled high and reconfigured by the artist for each venue. The installation offers a physical and psychological experience that captivates visitors and encourages them to reflect on fundamental aspects of human existence. The title alone provides a glimpse of the work’s diverse interpretations. The multiple meanings of the word “mass”, from disordered heap to formal religious ceremony, are starting points for each viewer’s personal encounter.
The iconography of the skull is itself ambiguous; associated with the brevity of human life in art history, and ubiquitous in popular culture. For Mueck, “The human skull is a complex object. A potent, graphic icon we recognize immediately. At once familiar and exotic, it repels and attracts simultaneously. It is impossible to ignore, demanding our attention at a subconscious level.”