Ron Mueck was born in Australia to German parents. He began his career working on the Australian children's television program Shirl's Neighbourhood. He was the creative director and made, voiced and operated the puppets Greenfinger the Garden Gnome, Ol' Possum, Stanley the snake and Claude the Crow amongst many others. The show was made for Channel 7 Melbourne between 1979 and 1984, broadcast nationally and starred the ex-lead singer of Skyhooks, Graeme "Shirley" Strachan.
Mueck's early career was as a model maker and puppeteer for children's television and films, notably the film Labyrinth for which he also contributed the voice of Ludo, and the Jim Henson series The Storyteller.
Mueck moved on to establish his own company in London, making photo-realistic props and animatronics for the advertising industry. Although highly detailed, these props were usually designed to be photographed from one specific angle hiding the mess of construction seen from the other side. Mueck increasingly wanted to produce realistic sculptures that looked perfect from all angles.
In 1996 Mueck transitioned to fine art, collaborating with his mother-in-law, Paula Rego, to produce small figures as part of a tableau she was showing at the Hayward Gallery. Rego introduced him to Charles Saatchi who was immediately impressed and started to collect and commission work. This led to the piece that made Mueck's name, Dead Dad, being included in the Sensation show at the Royal Academy the following year. Dead Dad is a silicone and mixed media sculpture of the corpse of Mueck's father reduced to about two thirds of its natural scale. It is the only work of Mueck's that uses his own hair for the finished product.
Mueck's sculptures faithfully reproduce the minute detail of the human body, but play with scale to produce disconcertingly jarring visual images. His five metre high sculpture Boy 1999 was a feature in the Millennium Dome and later exhibited in the Venice Biennale. Today it sits as the centerpiece in the foyer off the Danish Contemporary Art Museum ARoS in Aarhus.
In 1999 Mueck was appointed as Associate Artist at the National Gallery, London. During this two-year post he created the works Mother and Child, Pregnant Woman, Man in a Boat, and Swaddled Baby.
Ron Mueck's first exhibition in Japan opened on 26 April 2009 at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa. It ran until 8 August and featured a collection of works displayed over six spaces in the gallery. Among them were Mueck's latest work, "A Girl". The exhibition also included two short films about the artist, covering both his artistic background and his production techniques.
An exhibition was held at The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, from 12 December 2007 through 30 March 2008. "Ron Mueck at The Andy Warhol Museum" featured seven of the artist’s realistic human sculptures, including: In Bed; A Girl; Wild Man; Spooning Couple; Man in a Boat; Mask II; and Mask III.
The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, showed an exhibition of thirteen of Mueck's pieces from 24 June 2007, through 21 October 2007. The works in the show include Untitled (Seated Woman) (1999), Dead Dad (1996–97), In Bed (2005), Untitled (Big Man) (2000), Two Women (2005), Crouching Boy in Mirror (1999–2000), Spooning Couple (2005), Mask II (2001–2002), Mask III (2005), Wild Man (2005), and A Girl (2006).
A major retrospective of Mueck's work was held in his home town of Melbourne, Australia, in April 2010, at the National Gallery of Victoria.
The Christchurch Art Gallery hosted a touring version of the National Gallery of Victoria's exhibition from 2 October 2010 to 23 January 2011. The antique College of San Ildefonso Mexico 2011. Mueck participated in the group show Lifelike in 2012 which originated at the Walker Art Center.
From November 2013 to February 2014, Ron Mueck was exhibited for the first time in Latin America. The exhibition took place in Fundación Proa, a modern art museum in La Boca, Buenos Aires. Leaving Argentina, the South American tour went to Brazil, with the nine works following to Rio de Janeiro, where they were exposed between March 20 and June 1, 2014 at MAM, marking the biggest audience in the history of that museum, and then to São Paulo, exhibited at the Pinacoteca during the period November 20 2014 to February 22, 2015.
Pinocchio (1996), mixed media - standing boy, perhaps 5 years of age, wearing only underpants. (John and Amy Phelan Collection, New York).
Dead Dad (1996–97), silicone, acrylic paint and human hair - a 2/3-life-sized sculpture of Mueck's father lying on his back, naked. (Stefan T. Edlis Collection, Chicago).
Angel (1997), mixed media - a 1/3-scale boy seated on a tall stool, in a brooding pose looking down, sprouting wings made of real goose feathers. (Hoffman Collection, Dallas)
Big Baby II (1997), polyester resin, fiberglass, silicone, synthetic hair. 85 cm-high model of baby. (Caldic Collectie, Rotterdam).
Big Baby III (1997), polyester resin, fiberglass, silicone, synthetic hair, cotton. 85 cm-high model of baby. (Stefan T. Edlis Collection, Chicago).
Man in a Sheet (1997), polyester resin, fiberglass, silicone, polyurethane, aluminum wire, synthetic hair, cotton. Man wrapped in a sheet, bending forward to gaze at floor. (Olbricht Collection, Germany).
Mask (Self Portrait)(1997) - eight-foot reproduction of Mueck's own face, frowning. Collection of Mr. and Mrs. J. Tomilson Hill. Residing in the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.
Ghost (1998), mixed media - 2 metres tall (3/2 scale?) adolescent girl, in swimming costume, leaning against a wall, face averted. (Tate Gallery)
Man under Cardigan (1998), silicone, polyurethane, polyester resin, aluminum wire, wool. Naked man, sitting on floor, a woollen cardigan held over his head as if to shelter from rain. (Vicki and Kent Logan Collection).
Shaved Head (1998), mixed media. Naked man, squatting, arms stretched out, head turned downwards. (Hoffman Collection, Berlin).
Boy (1999), fibreglass, resin, silicone - a 5-metre-tall sculpture of a boy, crouching. First shown in the UK Millennium Dome exhibition. It is now owned by the art museum ARoS in the city of Aarhus, Denmark, who use it as a trademark piece.
Crouching Boy in Mirror (1999–2002), mixed media. Figure similar to the Millennium Boy, above, but on a much smaller scale, examining his reflection in a mirror. (The Broad art Foundation, Santa Monica).
Baby (2000), mixed media - tiny naked newborn baby boy, arms akimbo.(Keith and Kathy Sachs).
Untitled (Big Man) (2000) - a nearly seven-foot sculpture of a naked, completely hairless, belligerent-looking man sitting with his knees drawn up and his elbows resting on his knees, his head in his hand. The work is designed to sit in a corner. Owned by the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., it has become one of the museum's most popular works since its acquisition.
Man in Blankets (2000), mixed media - 1/2 scale - elderly naked man almost completely enveloped in blankets, which form a kind of cocoon. (Hoffman Collection, Dallas). Artist's proof is owned by Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf.
Old Woman in Bed (2000), mixed media - 1/2 scale - very elderly or dying woman lying in bed, draped in blankets, asleep. (National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa).
Standing Man (2000), mixed media. Middle-aged or elderly man dressed in gown and duffle coat. (Private collection, Milan).
Mask II (2001-2), mixed media. Huge head (the face appears to be Mueck's own), lying on its side as if asleep - private collection.
Mother and Child (2002), fibreglass, resin, silicone - 1/2 scale naked woman who has just given birth, the baby laid on her stomach with umbilical cord still attached and trailing to the woman's womb. (Bayerische Staatsgemaeldesammlungen, Munich).
Man in a Boat (2002), mixed media - 1/3 scale naked man seated toward the prow of a 4-metre-long rowing boat. (Private collection).
Pregnant Woman (2002), fibreglass, resin, silicone - 2.5-metres tall sculpture of a naked pregnant woman clasping her hands above her head. (National Gallery of Australia).
Swaddled Baby (2002), mixed media - life-sized new-born baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, head on a pillow.