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[Opinion] Encounters with 20th Century Art

Posted June. 16, 2005 03:04,   


These days, you can meet major Western painters of the 20th century in the Deoksugung palace. There is an art exhibition going on in which you can see paintings of masters such as Picasso, Vlaminck, Mondrian, and Kandinsky. Art of the 20th century produced various sects. In the tumultuous century, art also went through continuous ups and downs. Some 100 paintings from the 110-year-old Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art in Netherlands reveal the lightness and darkness of modern history.

The exhibition is titled “Exhibitions of Modern Arts Textbook,” meaning that visitors can have a first-hand look at those paintings that they saw on textbooks. Another point you must not miss is the linkage between art and history. The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century contributed to the popularization of art by bringing comfort and economic abundance to people’s lives. Artists usually drew paintings about “ordinary people” and began to be interested in revealing the inner side of the painters. Following this trend, Picasso’s paintings displayed in the exhibition introduced rational thinking to art. The works of Picasso, who attempted a three-dimension expression to be free from the limitations of plane canvass, swept the early 20th century.

During the two World Wars, artists cried and were frustrated by the ashes and ruins of the tragic wars. They reacted in their own ways. Some painters expressed the ideal of liberation and freedom. Others drew pictures about survival in reality. Still others relied on something surreal that exists beyond reality. The exhibition encompasses various trends given birth to in the process, including abstractism, expressionism, surrealism, and pop art.

It is not easy to grasp the painters’ deep agonies perhaps because we are living in a different world. Even contemporary painters of the 20th century had different ways of dealing with the world with one another. Still, it is a pleasant opportunity to go over 20th century art. Masters are boasting their unique world of art inside the exhibition hall, while early summer’s greens of old palace are radiating bright freshness. It is worth visiting, as refreshment in busy daily lives.

Hong Chan-sik, Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com