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Salon de Gyeongseong Genius painters who embroidered modern Korean history

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Salon de Gyeongseong Genius painters who embroidered modern Korean history

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Author: Inhye Kim

Art historian, former head of the modern art team at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

Born in Daegu in 1974. She majored in art history at Seoul National University's Department of Archeology and Art History, and received a master's degree with a thesis on 19th-century German Romanticism and a doctorate with research on the Chinese woodblock print movement of the 1930s. Since 2002, he has worked as a curator at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, planning blockbuster exhibitions in collaboration with countries such as France, the Netherlands, and Austria. He focused on research on Asian art and co-curated projects such as “Asian Cubism” and “Asian Realism.” did.
In order to conduct full-scale research on Korean modern artists since 2012, she first planned to systematically collect and build the artists' archive at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. Since then, based on the faithful archive, an exhibition featuring rich storytelling has become possible. It attracted great attention by holding solo exhibitions of Korea's leading modern and contemporary artists, including 《Lee Jung-seop: A Hundred Years of Myth》, 《Yoo Young-guk: Absolute and Freedom》, and 《Yoon Hyeong-geun》.
The “When Art Meets Literature” exhibition planned for 2021 was also a data-based exhibition that showed the interrelationship between art and literature in Gyeongseong in the 1930s and 1940s. With this, she began serializing <Kim In-hye's Salon de Gyeongseong> in the Chosun Ilbo. In recognition of her role as a curator, she was awarded the 2022 Monthly Art Award and the 2023 Jeong Jin-gi Press Culture Award.
Until June 2023, she served as the head of the modern art team overseeing the program of the Deoksugung pavilion at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, and she hopes to continue contributing to informing more people about the lives and works of Korean modern artists. .


A word from MD


[The sad yet brilliant history of modern Korean art] The history of modern Korean art introduced by the author who planned various exhibitions such as <When Art Meets Literature> and <Lee Jung-seop's 100 Year Myth> at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. We invite readers to Gyeongseong in the early 1900s, a time when the world of friendship, love, and work of major artists such as Park Soo-geun, Kim Hwan-ki, and Lee Jung-seop were chaotic but full of romance. - Art PD Hyeonjae Ahn
Art becomes life and life becomes art!
Even in the most barren and cruel times, literature and art flourished.
We invite you to the world of modern Korean artists!

Today, the world's interest in the Korean art world is intense. World-class art fairs such as Frieze are held in Seoul and attract a lot of visitors, and works by Korean artists such as Kim Hwan-ki are sold at prices exceeding 10 billion won. As such, there were pioneers who ignited their artistic spirit even in harsh environments until Korean art grew rapidly both at home and abroad in just over 100 years. These are modern artists who were active during the transitional period from the late 19th century to the 1950s. Nevertheless, when we think of modern Korean writers, we only think of Lee Jung-seop and Park Soo-geun, and we don't know much about them.

Accordingly, curator Kim In-hye, who planned blockbuster exhibitions such as 『When Art Meets Literature』, 『Lee Jung-seop's 100-Year Myth』, 『The Art Museum I Love』, and 『Yun Hyeong-geun』 at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, organized the lives and works of genius painters who embroidered Korea's modern history. Published 『Salon de Gyeongseong』. The column of the same name, which has been serialized in 『Chosun Ilbo』 since 2021 and is receiving a warm response, has been revised and supplemented and compiled into a book. It is an exciting story about the friendship, love, and world of works of over 30 major artists and writers, including Koo Bon-woong, Park Soo-geun, Lee Jung-seop, Kim Hwan-ki, Yoo Young-guk, Na Hye-seok, Lee Quee-dae, Lee In-seong, Lee Seong-ja, Jang Wook-jin, Kwon Jin-gyu, and Moon Moon. Their lives, which went through the chaotic era of enlightenment and the dark era of Japanese colonial rule, and the harsh times of war and division, to build their own world of art, are both sad and brilliant.

Publisher review

With the expertise of researchers and the popularity and experience of veteran curators,
Unfolding moving records of the lives and works of artists

Above all, the author led the systematic collection and management of Korean artists' archives (letters, diaries, photos, notes, etc.) at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, demonstrating the possibility of an exhibition that highlights rich storytelling based on materials. The book is also an extension of that. Through various archives, it illuminates the lives of artists in a three-dimensional way and tells rare stories that have not been heard anywhere else, such as interviews with bereaved families conducted directly, amazing genealogies passed down to today's descendants, and hidden stories related to the artist's life and works.

This book consists of four major chapters. Chapter 1 is about the process by which painters and writers at the cutting edge of new culture in the modern era developed each other's artistic world through friendship and collaboration across genres, and Chapter 2 is about painters representing Korea and their achievements today. He talks about his wives who were devoted spouses, artistic comrades, and supporters. Chapter 3 unfolds the turbulent lives of painters who had to go through the most barren and cruel times and the world of works that blossomed even in those times. Chapter 4 talks about the deep and deep ‘fate’ of painters who had no choice but to be saved through art despite repeated pain and wandering.

The struggles and lifestyles of artists who awaken hardened emotions and aspirations for life

Park Tae-won and Koo Bon-woong, maternal grandfathers of film director Bong Joon-ho and ballerina Kang Su-jin, who co-created the best magazine in Gyeongseong; the heavy artistic spirit of painter Park Soo-geun, who made 39-year-old housewife Park Wan-seo pick up the pen; and artistic comrades Kim Hwan-ki and Kim Hyang-an, who moved even the world, creating one painting until their 60s. Yoo Young-guk, a master of Korean abstract painting who could not sell, Lee Kweedae, Korea's Michelangelo who created art textbooks and taught younger students even in a concentration camp, Na Hye-seok, who accepted the arduous fate of an explorer, Lee Seong-ja, a painter and mother who created her own vast universe, and absurd bullets. Lee In-seong, the ill-fated genius who fell in... … .

The author does not aim to emphasize the transcendence and greatness of artists through the book, or to spread art knowledge such as the techniques or trends of the works. First, it guides you to a holistic understanding of the artists' world by looking at their lives and clearly revealing the organic context between their philosophies and works. I hope that their struggle and way of life, which did not give up on their world despite human deficiencies and numerous frustrations, will touch the hearts of readers. What makes artists great is that they remain faithful to human basics and nature even in the face of trials that can befall anyone. The ‘honest expression of an artist preserved in utter solitude’ makes us reflect on ourselves and stimulate the aspirations for life that have become blunted by the calculations of everyday life.

An exhibition hall and the best textbook on paper that invites you to Korean modern art.

The book, which is about 400 pages long, contains about 200 drawings and photographs, and provides sufficient explanation and evidence through 150 annotations to encourage further interest and study. Based on the artist's unique eloquence and extensive knowledge, exciting storytelling about each artist's life journey, philosophy, and analysis of the work as an expert combine to provide vivid fun and emotion as if you were listening to an explanation from a veteran curator at an art museum. It is presented. In the process, you will naturally develop your artistic perspective and insight, and further experience a meaningful time confirming the solid roots of K-culture.

This book will be a good guide for both the general public and experts, including those who want to enjoy the appreciation of art works more deeply, as well as students studying art history and docents who introduce various works of art to the public at exhibition sites. The moment anyone closes the book, the distance between us and art will narrow further and we will want to go to an art museum right away.

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