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Korean Modern Art Pioneer Kim Whan-ki

The National Folk Museum of Korea, Whanki Museum and Korean Embroidery Museum are holding a special exhibition titled “Kim Whan-ki and The Beauty of Korea — Echo of Dot, Line and Plane,” at the Whanki Museum in Buam-dong (central Seoul) through Dec. 9.

From the late 1930s, Kim Whan-ki pioneered Abstract Art, which was one of the radical art movements at the time, and led the Korean Modernist Movement.

In the 1950s, much of his art included Korean motifs, including ceramics and blossoms, and later natural motifs, including mountains, rivers and the moon during his Paris and Seoul periods. In his New York period, he portrayed a more universal and inner lyrical world with basic formative elements such as dots, lines and planes.

Kim Whan-ki moved to the U.S. in 1963, the same year he received the honorary award in the Sao Paulo biennale. He continued to make art for another 11 years, until his death in 1974.

The special exhibition at the Whanki Museum celebrates the museum’s 20th anniversary and highlights the affinity between Kim Whan-ki’s works and wooden furniture and bojagi (traditional wrapping cloth) of Korea’s Chosun Dynasty, suggesting the complementary relationship between Korean tradition and modern art.

The exhibition displays 14 pieces of wooden furniture, one moon-patterned jar and 48 pieces of bojagi, along with 50 paintings by the first generation Western-style artist. 

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About the author by Donna Choi

Born and raised in the States, I came to Seoul in 2009 and have loved living and working in such a high-tech and connected city ever since. I enjoy collecting unique, cute gadgets/items (I have a bread-scented smartphone case!) and traveling around Korea. My personal mission while living in Korea: Try every type of Korean food known to exist.

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