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The Shape of Time: Korean Art after 1989

Minneapolis Institute of Art


A lavishly illustrated overview of contemporary Korean art that offers new insight into the country’s tumultuous modern history and its multifaceted and vibrant art scene.

Focusing on the work of 33 artists, this volume examines the ways contemporary Korean art reflects the dynamic changes in the country following the 1980 Gwangju Uprising and 1988 Seoul Olympics, when a newly democratic South Korea opened up to the rest of the world and quickly became a key player, both economically and culturally, on the global stage. Among the works featured are complex installations by Do Ho Suh and siren eun young jung; sculptures made from disparate materials by Yeesookyung; embroideries that engage with fraught political issues via covert transactions with embroiderers in North Korea by Kyungah Ham; and paintings of contemporary pop figures made using traditional East Asian techniques by Donghyun Son.

Essays by a diverse group of scholars position the works in their historical and sociopolitical contexts within the accelerated timeline—and resulting compression of past, present, and future—of what has been called Korea’s long twenty-first century. With artist biographies, an illustrated chronology, and a selected bibliography, this study is the first English-language presentation of this material and is a significant contribution to the interpretation and understanding of contemporary Korean art and culture.

Details: Distributed for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. 264 pages.

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