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THURSDAY

First George Segal put white-plaster people in real-life environs. Then Duane Hanson constructed statues so realistic that museumgoers sometimes tried to engage them in conversation. Neither artist’s work, however, is adequate preparation for Australian artist Ron Mueck’s Big Man. After a period in storage, this hunched-over nude is again glowering from a corner in the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, impatiently showing his wrinkly knees, saggy belly, ample scrotum, and gnarled foot veins to astonished passers-by. Constructed of pigmented polyester resin on fiberglass, the figure is hyperrealism with a hint of menace. Seated as he is, the man is roughly at adult eye level, but if he could only stand up, he’d tower over his observers. Modeled on someone in late middle age, the sculpture is in part a vision of inevitable decay. Yet there’s also power there, suggesting that the guy isn’t just a big man—he might be a dad. The sculpture is on view daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, 7th and Independence Ave. SW. Free. (202) 633-1000. (Mark Jenkins)