Dead Dad (German: "Toter Vater") is a hyper-realistic sculpture by the Australian artist Ron Mueck from 1996/1997. The reclining figure of an unclothed, deceased man is 102 cm long, 38 cm wide and 20 cm high, and depicts the artist's deceased father. It is owned by the Saatchi Gallery in London .
Dead Dad consists of a recumbent figure that represents an undressed and deceased person. This is an image of the artist's father, which was made in detail from acrylic and fiberglass resin. With the exception of the body height of only 102 centimeters, the representation is hyper-realistic, so that individual pores , skin folds, torn fingernails, calluses and body hair are clearly visible; discoloration of the corpse can also be clearly seen. For the execution of the body hair, the artist sometimes used his own hair.
The corpse is stretched out long, the arms are on both sides of the body with the palms facing upwards and the stretched legs are slightly twisted with the feet pointing diagonally upwards. The neck is stretched so that the back of the head rests on the surface. The mouth is narrow and like the eyes closed, the graying hair has been combed back with a comb.
Dead Dad is important mainly because of its closeness to reality without idealization. The artist dealt with the death of his father by working out the detailed sculpture, using his own hair for the production of body hair and thus strengthening the personal relationship. The portrayal is neither sensational nor ingratiating, but rather factual due to its level of detail, whereby the "shocking honesty" allows comparisons to be made with paintings from the late Gothic period and, above all, with the body of Christ in the grave by Hans Holbein from 1521.
Due to the form of presentation, the work forces the viewer to deal with the largely taboo and suppressed death of a person in modern society. Accordingly, it is a modern memento mori , a reminder of human mortality. Mueck himself was anxious to do something new that a photo does not do justice to.
Classification in the overall work
Ron Mueck only began to work as a freelance artist in 1996, so Dead Dad is one of his earliest works. He previously worked as a toy maker and model maker for film and television, including in Jim Henson's team for Sesame Street and the Muppet Show and in 1986 for the film Labyrinth with David Bowie .
Mueck became known for lifelike depictions of people made of fiberglass and acrylic resin, including Dead Dad . They are mostly created in direct cooperation with living models, whereby he often first designs the works in clay and then redesigns them according to his wishes until they no longer have much to do with the actual proportions of the sitter. The size of the figures does not usually correspond to the actual body size, but is significantly reduced or enlarged in order to avoid confusion with real people.
Dead Dad was first exhibited as part of the Sensation organized by the Young British Artists in 1997 in London, where it was considered one of the outstanding works of art. Further exhibitions followed in 2006/2007 in the Brooklyn Museum , in 2007 in the National Gallery of Canada and in 2010 in the National Gallery of Victoria . In 2017/2018 the sculpture can be seen in the Landesmuseum Hannover as part of the exhibition “Silberglanz”, which shows works related to the “art of aging”.
- Dead Dad. In: Kerstin Stremmel: Realism. Taschen GmbH, Cologne 2004, pp. 68-69, ISBN 3-8228-2939-0 .
- David Cohen: letter from london: sensation. October 24, 1997, accessed April 25, 2010 .
- Michael Kimmelman: ART REVIEW; Veering From the End of Life to the Beginning, With Lucidity and Awe. In: New York Times . June 1, 2001, accessed on April 25, 2010 (English): “Maybe the best thing to come from Sensation was the debut of Ron Mueck, a retiring 43-year-old sculptor from Melbourne, Australia, living in London, who stole the show for anybody who bothered to look at the art. "
- Exhibitions: Ron Mueck. Retrieved April 25, 2010 .
- The Staggering Lifelike Sculptures of Ron Mueck! A Canadian Exclusive Presentation at the National Gallery of Canada. (No longer available online.) Formerly in the original ; Retrieved April 25, 2010 (English). ( Page no longer available , search in web archives ) Info: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Note: The press release does not explicitly name the artwork Dead Dad , but it does appear from the Brooklyn Museum (see previous evidence) that it did.
- RON MUECK. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on January 25, 2010 ; Retrieved April 25, 2010 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.
- Exhibition on the beauty and horror of old age. In: Hannoversche Allgemeine. October 2, 2017. Retrieved October 2, 2017 .
- Dead dad. In: Kerstin Stremmel: Realism. Taschen GmbH, Cologne 2004, pp. 68-69, ISBN 3-8228-2939-0 .