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Aurélie Verdier

(b Melbourne, May 9, 1958).

Australian sculptor. He spent 20 years in Australian and British television and advertising, where he was already making the mannequins that he later adapted to sculptural purposes. He started his artistic career when collaborating with his mother-in-law, Paula Rego for the Spellbound exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in 1996, for which he made a Pinocchio figure. Introduced by Rego to Charles Saatchi, who immediately began to collect his work, Mueck took part in the exhibition Sensation at the Royal Academy in 1997 with mixed media sculpture Dead Dad (1996–7; London, Saatchi Gal.), an unsettling illusionistic rendition of his own deceased father, half life-size. Made from memory, the sculpture became as much the focus for a strong emotional involvement as it was a mere object treated with Mueck’s rigorous eye for detail. As the artist explained, the miniaturized representation proved a more emotionally involving depiction of death (an initial study was done in full scale) by compelling the beholder to ‘cradle’ the corpse visually. His concern with illusionistic verisimilitude has been linked to the uncompromising Northern tradition of portraiture exemplified by Jan van Eyck or Hans Holbein (ii). Mueck sculpts in clay, makes a plaster mould around it and finally replaces the clay with a mixture of fibreglass, silicone and resin; the technical skill involved, though taken for granted by the artist himself, has often been foregrounded by critics to the detriment of its content. Such psychological density was evident in ...