[LECTURE] 2016 YÉOL September lecture - Contemporary Korean Art작성일   2016-08-29

[YÉOL 2016 September lecture] Contemporary Korean Art


Lecturer: Hyung-min CHUNG

Professor of art history, College of fine Arts, Seoul National University


Over the past few decades, contemporary Korean art has received ever-increasing attention in the international art scene in museum exhibitions and in art market as well. As Korean art emerged from colonial aesthetics to the complex initiatives of individuals with new global outlook, it is possible to see the growth and development not only of art but of society. With persisting external stimulus, Korean art also has shown the artists’ shifting reflection on the past and the present, sometimes reconciling or integrating the contemporaneity and the tradition. This lecture introduces the historical span of contemporary art from the 1950s to today to show the evolution that has occurred, with artists exploring new concepts and materials.

After the Korean War (1950-53), which followed the liberation (15 Aug 1945) from Japan’s colonial rule, artists turned their attention to the art of the Europe and the U. S. A. reflecting the nation’s aspirations toward modernization. Abstract art was conceived as modern art.  Cubism, Informel, and Abstract Expressionism were the new models that Korean artists indulged in throughout the 1960s. In the 1970s, nationalism and contemporaneity were the two artistic goals. Monochrome painting style of the West has been concluded as indigenous Korean monochromatic painting, “Dansaekhua.” The avant-garde spirit was geared to the political activism sparked by the Gwangju Democratization Movement of 1980, and the art of the mass, Minjungmisul” was surfaced and vocalized the political and social issues. Art scenes appeared to have two opposing foes: minjung vs. modernist, echoing the socialist and the capitalist.

The end of the Cold War seems to have blurred the borders between the two political -aesthetic ideologies as well. In the 1990s, some dealt with more fundamental issues such as the existential thoughts. Some took interest in the Korean historicity. With the beginning of the new millennium, the presence of Korean artists became very prominent in the global art world. They share the common global artistic issues but at the same time taking the indigenous local cultural tradition as their back bone.


Hyung-Min CHUNG is a Professor of Seoul National University (SNU) and the former Director of Korea National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Since 1994, she has taught art history at College of Fine Arts, SNU.

In the 1970s, she majored in Art History at Wellesley College (B.A.) and University of Michigan (M.A.). She finished her Ph.D. at Columbia University.

In her career, she has directed many art exhibitions as a director in Seoul Arts Center and Museum of Art, Seoul National University. Recently, she was a member of Presidential Commission on Architecture Policy (2013-2015).

She wrote several books on art for students and the general public including Modern Korean Ink Painting (2006), Technical Drawing of the Late Joseon Korea (2007) and The Concept of the 'Orient' and Modern Korean Art (2011).






Education room (1st floor), Seoul Museum of History

55 Saemunan-ro, Jongno-gu, Seoul


Date and Time

September 5th, 2016 (Mon)

11:30 A.M. to 13:00 P.M





Lunch Fee (optional)

10,000 Won (Sandwich & drink)

* Reservation for lunch is required.

* Donation receipt can be issued.

* Wire transfer to KEB a/c#631-000503-181 (YÉOL) or at the venue in cash


Contact (Registration required)


T: 02-745-5878

F: 02-736-5878