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“Stroll in Deoksugung” with Masters of Modern Art

Posted May. 24, 2005 03:39,   


The works of masters who have decorated the major chapters of modern art history are gathering in a single place. The National Museum of Contemporary Art, together with the Dutch Stedelijk Museum, is holding “Encounters with Modernism: Highlights from the Stedelijk Museum and the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea Exhibition,” starting from May 28 at the Deoksugung Art Museum.

As the Korean title of the Exhibition, “Traveling to the 20th Century, from Picasso to Paik Nam-june,” mentions, it will be a rare opportunity to appreciate cubism, expressionism, pop art, video art, and other diverse forms and genre of contemporary art all in one place. That is why the exhibition also has a subtitle “Contemporary Art Textbook through Original Pieces.” The Stedelijk Museum provided 71 pieces while the National Museum of Contemporary Art provided 42.

When we visited Stedelijk Museum last week, the museum had just finished packing the pieces to be sent to Korea. The Stedelijk Museum overlooking the Amsterdam Canal is considered the cradle of modern art. After being founded in 1895, it has provided its space for the exhibition of artists considered avant-garde by its contemporaries.

The main stage for the work of Mondrian, who is considered as the forefather of abstractionism along with Kandinsky, was here and the early video works of Paik Nam-june were also displayed here. The work of American pop artists such as Andy Warhol was also displayed at the Stedelijk Museum first.

The Stedelijk Museum provided the works of 59 artists and some of the names are, Picasso, Leger, Vlaminck, Jawlensky, Mondrian, Kandinsky, Karel Appel, Marcel Duchamp, Jackson Pollack, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Claes Thure Oldenburg, Robert Longo, Bruce Nauman, and Jeff Koons.

Stedelijk Museum Assistant Curator Maarten Bertheux who planned jointly the exhibition said, “I am happy to hold the exhibition at the Deoksugung Art Museum with such a beautiful view. You will be able to enjoy true contemporary art.” He also added that visitors to this exhibition will witness the “accidental meeting” of Western and Korean art.

The National Museum of Contemporary Art plans to display the works of Korean artists side by side with the works of similar feelings provided by the Stedelijk Museum. Assistant Curator Bertheux also emphasized, “Although it was not imitated intentionally, the meaning of similar works being created is evidence that artistic inspiration transcends time and space.” There are 18 Korea artists on display including Nam Gwan, Paik Nam-june, Seo Sei-ok, Lee Woo-hwan, Seo Do-ho, Roh Sang-gyun, Ahn Kyu-cheol, Choo Jae-hwan, Choi Jeong-hwa, and Lee Bul.

The exhibition is divided accordingly into the three key subjects of “abstraction,” “expression,” and “conceptual” displaying the diverse flows that had an impact on 20th Century art history such as cubism, geometric abstractionism, lyrical abstractionism, Fauvism, expressionism, abstraction expressionism, conceptual art, pop art, and postmodernism. Average people think that modern art such as works of abstractionism and expressionism, and installation art are quite difficult to understand. On this aspect, Bertheux commented, “If you try to interpret the work and understand the intention of the artist you will only get a headache,” and advised, “First of all, enjoying the work visually, feeling it with your heart and then interpreting and understanding what you felt would be the best way.”

The exhibition will be held until August 15. Tickets cost 10,000 won for adults, 7,000 won for high and middle school students and 5,000 won for elementary school students.

Dong-Keun Keum gold@donga.com