Seated woman, 1999, by Ron Mueck is a sculpture of an old lady who is seated clasping her hands in front of her. She is slightly hunched and her face looks lonely and sad. She has wrinkles on her face which explain that she is elderly. She is seated alone on a brown rug which creates an image in the mind of the audience that the woman is lonely and deserted. Her facial expression can also tell that she is sad. The woman is decently dressed despite the look on her face. She wears a black sweater, a grey skirt, shiny black shoes and a brown top. She also has jewellery on her. The jewellery contradicts with the image of desperation and poverty which other aspects of the sculpture reveal. Her hair is also curly and well kempt which makes her appear stylish. The sculpture of the seated woman has been exhibited in various cities including London, Berlin, Washington and Venice (Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth). It has become an extremely popular sculpture.
This sculpture portrays various human characteristics including vulnerability. The woman appears to be sad and lonely. The place where she is seated also shows that she is most probably a poor woman. The attributes displayed in the sculpture make the audience feel emotionally connected to it through the vulnerability it displays. The colour choice in the sculpture is dull and the texture is smooth. This colour choice helps to convey the message that the artist intended to communicate using this sculpture. Despite the poverty and vulnerability that most of the sculpture communicates, there is a contrast caused by the jewellery and the stylish hair. These are features that are common among the young generation.
The woman’s facial expression, her sitting position and the place where she is seated all display vulnerability. The sculpture is an expression of some of the challenges that human beings face and particularly the elderly. They are abandoned and deserted. Most of them also live in extreme poverty conditions. Poverty is revealed in this sculpture through the use of dull colors and the brown rug on which the woman is seated.
Additionally, the bodies of the elderly are frail as shown in this sculpture through the wrinkles on the woman’s face and her sitting position. She also has her mouth open which is an indication of heavy breathing. Her eyes are red, her skin is pallid and her calves seem swollen. All these characteristics on her body are most probably due to poor health. This sculpture, therefore, communicates about the health challenges that the elderly face. The weak bodies of the elderly make them vulnerable to various health conditions. It also hinders them from effectively participating in routine activities including sitting upright. This sculpture, therefore, gives the audience a reason to sympathize with not only the woman on it but also other elderly people in society.
The sculpture also gives a contrast of being a young person and being elderly. It illustrates that the elderly also went through the stage of being young. This illustration is shown by the jewellery that the woman wears and the way she styles her hair. It is an indication that she was also young at some point in her life. It is also an indication that despite her odd age, she still remembers her experiences as a young person. A critical analysis of this contrast reveals that young people can learn from the experiences of the older generation. It can also be interpreted to mean that a person’s life as a young person has an implication on who they become and what they do when they are older. The old woman must have began wearing jewellery and styling her hair at a young age but she continues to do so in her later years. Moreover, the contrast is a show of positivity and resilience. Despite the hard times the elderly woman may have gone through, she still has the strength to wear jewellery, style her hair and dress decently.
Ron Mueck used the sculpture to effectively communicate about the plight of the elderly and the vulnerability of human beings. He manages to capture the emotions of his audience. The sculpture makes everyone who looks at it to empathize with the elderly woman. The audience is likely to wish they could do something to help the woman. Consequently, these thoughts and emotions makes the audience consider the plight of the elderly and the poor in the society. The artist is therefore, effective in their work because he influences the audience to act and improve the welfare of the elderly in society.
Moreover, the artist uses dull colours effectively and manages to make the sculpture extremely eye catching. The seated elderly woman also looks decent despite the challenges she faces which are communicated using other aspects of the sculpture. The sculpture is, therefore, appealing to the eye which makes the audience want to see it, analyse and learn from it. An artist cannot effectively communicate a subject without making their art appealing enough to generate the interest of the audience.
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