The Korea International Art Fair (KIAF), the biggest local arts market in South Korea, has hosted the largest audience since inception this year. According to the Galleries Association of Korea, the number of visitors, at around 82,000, has surged 30 percent from last year. KIAF, which was kicked off Wednesday with a VIP preview at COEX in southern Seoul, showcased some 10,000 artworks in 157 galleries from 17 countries over five days before being closed on Sunday.
The biggest attention getters were James Turrell’s Atlantis (700,000 U.S. dollars), and Constantin Brancusi’s Princess X (7.39 million dollars), which was the most expensive artwork presented in 2019 KIAF. Displayed at Pace Gallery, the Atlantis is an artwork consisting 12 layers of LED panels that inspires an atmosphere of contemplation. Turrell, some of whose works are displayed at Museum San, a local museum in Wonju, Gangwon Province, is known for his massive scale of installations, but his work was set up in a smaller setting at KIAF for lack of space.
Brancusi’s work was presented by Frankfurt-based Die Galerie. Well known for decluttered yet sensational works, the Romanian artist is dubbed the father of modern sculpture. Describing the profile of Princess Marie Bonaparte, the Princess X is one of eight editions. Most of the sculptures with historical values are kept at art museums including the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
The calm atmosphere of 2019 KIAF drew a sharp contrast against the event from last year, which drew heated attention by featuring some of the “hottest” contemporary artists such as Jeff Koons, Donald Judd, and Alice Neel, with David Zwirner gallery participating in the Korean art event for the first time. Against the backdrop of sluggish art market, it appears the organizers sought to solidify the footing of the event rather than highlighting loud and conspicuous artworks.
The year’s event looks more audience-friendly. A talk lounge was newly installed inside B Hall to host 11 different lectures. Aside from professional lecturers, Kim Chan-yong, a popular docent, and Cho Won-jae, the author of “Museum in My Room” (Banggukseok Misoolgwan), drew particularly keen attention from the audience. In some lectures, those without seats were seen lending an attentive ear, standing in corners.
The special exhibition of “Modern Painting of Korea, Romance That Became History,” which presented the artworks incubated in South Korea from the 1950s to 1979, was an interesting space for beginners of art. The exhibition showcased 38 artworks by 26 artists. The proceeds for this year reached 31 billion won, up 10.7 percent from last year’s 28 billion won.
Min Kim firstname.lastname@example.org