Home / Art / Sculpture100 Gigantic Skulls Spill Through the Vast Halls of a Museum

100 Gigantic Skulls Spill Through the Vast Halls of a Museum

Ron Mueck Australia contemporary art

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Sean Fennessey)

Australian artist Ron Mueck has unveiled his largest installation ever with Mass, a collection of 100 monumental hand-cast skulls. Commissioned specially for the National Gallery of Victoria’s International Triennial, the imposing and ominous skulls pour through the galleries, each skull artfully placed into a tumbling mass.

Mueck, known for his hyperrealistic sculptures, forgoes his typically obsessive detail in bringing to life his hyperrealistic sculpture by focusing on what remains long after our bodies have decayed. “Mass intrudes into the 18th Century Galleries like a glacier inching across a landscape, crowding out the powdered, bewigged lords and ladies, a reminder of all our fates,” the artist shares.

And with this, the contemporary sculptor plays off memento mori, the medieval Christian theory and contemplation of mortality that has long fascinated artists, from 17th-century sculptors like Bernini to painters like Picasso. The impressive scale and size of the sculptures dwarf visitors—each skull measures about 5 feet in height and the installation weighs a total of 5.5 tons. Engulfed in the sea of skulls, it’s impossible to avoid the contradiction between the beauty of their form and the intensity of their significance.

Each hand-finished skull, cast in resin, is also a tribute to Mueck’s artistic dedication to precision. The slight variations in form individualize each of the 100 skulls, adding his signature realistic touch to the surreal installation. Mass is just one of the pieces in the inaugural Triennial, which is hosting 100 artists from 32 countries. Twenty of the pieces, including Mueck’s, were commissioned specifically for this ambitious exhibition, which runs through April 15, 2018.

Ron Mueck’s Mass is his largest installation ever, composed of 100 hand-cast skulls.

Ron Mueck - Mass - National Gallery of Victoria Triennial

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Tom Ross)

Ron Mueck - Mass - National Gallery of Victoria Triennial

Young visitors engaging with “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Eugene Hyland)

Ron Mueck Mass NGV Triennial

Installation view of Mass by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Sean Fennessey)

Ron Mueck skull sculpture

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Sean Fennessey)

Ron Mueck sculpture installation National Gallery Victoria

Photo: Sean Fennessey

Commissioned for the National Gallery of Victoria’s International Triennial, each individual skull sculpture is 5 feet tall.

Ron Mueck art installation

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Sean Fennessey)

Ron Mueck skull sculptures

Photo: Sean Fennessey

Ron Mueck contemporary art installation

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Sean Fennessey)

Ron Mueck contemporary sculpture

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Tom Ross)

The skulls spill through the 18th Century Galleries, forcing viewers to confront their own mortality while viewing this incredible piece of contemporary art.

Ron Mueck sculpture

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Sean Fennessey)

Ron Mueck sculptor

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Sean Fennessey)

Ron Mueck contemporary sculptor

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Tom Ross)

Ron Mueck Triennial

Installation view of “Mass” by Ron Mueck, 2017 on display at NGV Triennial at NGV International, 2017. (Photo: Sean Fennessey)

Watch NGV’s director and senior curator speak about Mueck’s monumental installation.

National Gallery of Victoria: Website | Facebook | Instagram 

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by National Gallery of Victoria.

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