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Lee Kun-hee Collection to be exhibited in New York

Posted June. 09, 2023 08:27,   

Updated June. 09, 2023 08:27


Roughly 30 masterworks of Korean modern and contemporary art scenes, including the “Lee Kun-hee Collection” and paintings from the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Leeum Museum of Art, will be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) in New York from November. This will be the first time a Korean modern and contemporary painting exhibition will be held at The Met in New York.

On Wednesday (local time), The MET in New York announced that it would hold the exhibition "Lineages: Korean Art at The Met" from November 7 to October 30 next year. The exhibition, which also commemorates the 25th anniversary of The Arts of Korea Gallery in the Met, is attracting attention as it includes "Paradise" by Paik Nam-soon. Paradise is the most noteworthy modern art piece of the "Lee Kun-hee Collection," which is the collection of the late Lee Kun-hee, former chairman of Samsung. In addition, works by Seo Seok, Kim Whan-ki, Lee Ufan, and Lee Seung-taek, which are owned by the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and the Leeum, will also be on display together.

The Met is considered one of the world's four largest art museums, with tens of thousands of works from around the world's 5,000-year art history. Eleanor Hyun, a curator at the Met Museum of Art, who curated this Korean exhibition, met with a reporter from The Dong-A Ilbo and asked why the upcoming exhibition was titled ‘Lineages.’ “The agony of new identities appears in the works at that time as the artists post-liberation traveled back and forth between Korea, the U.S., and France,” the curator said. It contains the meaning that the artists then were creating a new tradition in turbulent times represented by the Japanese invasion, war, and new cultures and inventions introduced in Korea, and that Korean modern and contemporary art succeeding all these convolutions. The museum plans to organize this exhibition under four themes: "Lines, People, Places, and Objects."

The Arts of Korea Gallery at the Met opened in 1998 with the support of the Korea Exchange Foundation and operating funds from the Samsung Foundation for Arts and Culture. Due to the overwhelming scale of the China Gallery or the Japan Gallery with many collections, the Korean Gallery, being smaller in scale and a focus on antique art, there have been voices for more varied exhibitions. “This will be an opportunity to showcase various aspects of Korean art to New York visitors,” Curator Hyun said.

Although Korean art has had a lesser presence than K-pop or K-classic, recently, related exhibitions are on the rise in the American art world. Another art museum representing New York, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, plans to hold an exhibition of Korean experimental art in the 1960s and 1970s from September 1 to January 7 next year.

Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com