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Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s history of art collection

Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art’s history of art collection

Posted February. 09, 2022 08:01,   

Updated February. 09, 2022 08:01


“To Art, To the World” exhibition held at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Cheongju shows how art museums have collected international art pieces from the 1970s to 2000s. One hundred and four art pieces, including sculpture, drawing, paintings, of 96 artists from various nationalities are being exhibited.  

“We found that the artwork did not share many commonalities in terms of nationality of the artists or when they were made. Thus, we categorized the pieces by when they were collected and designed the exhibition spaces so that they could be viewed individually,” said Lee Hyo-jin, an art and science researcher at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.  

Among 8,785 pieces owned by the museum aside from Lee Kun-hee art collection, 925 come from overseas. Seventy two percent or 668 artworks had been owned by the museum before 2000, as the museum focused on expanding its international collection from the 1980s to 2000. The museum eased regulations on donations in response to criticism on its limited collection, which encouraged donations during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Artist Paik Nam June had led purchases of artwork by Andy Warhol and Bulgarian installation artist Christo Javacheff.

Initially the collection started out based on diplomatic relations or personal relationships with certain artists, such as the artwork titled “Void of people on Empty Mountain(1978)” by Chinese artist Liu Ye Jiao. The artwork was donated by the artist after an exhibition held in Seoul in 1978. It became the first piece of international artwork acquired by the museum.

The exhibition features David Hockney’s “Grand Canyon South Rim with Oct 1982”, donated by the Korean Association for Modern Art in 1991 and Jean Messagier’s vibrant color and dynamic design shown in “The encounter of Jean Battista Tiepolo and Vincent Van Gogh (1987)”. The latter painting was donated by the International Modern Painting Exhibition held by the museum after the International Modern Art Festival held on the sidelines of the Seoul Olympics.  

“There were limits collecting international artwork, prior to the Olympics. With globalization, however, we saw more international exhibitions being held in Korea, opening more opportunities for the museum to acquire international artwork,” explained Lee. “We continue to acquire artwork as we no longer accept donations since 1992,” she said. The exhibition remains open until June 12 with free admission.