Nam June Paik: Global Visionary
Smithsonian American Art Museum - Washington, D.C., USA
Until August 11, 2013
The artwork and ideas of Nam June Paik were a major influence on late 20th-century art and continue to inspire a new generation of artists. “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary” offers an
unprecedented view into the artist’s creative method by featuring key artworks that convey Paik’s extraordinary accomplishments as a major international artist as well as material drawn from the Nam June Paik Archive, which was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum from the artist’s estate in 2009. The archive, along with several significant works by Paik on permanent public view, has established the museum as the international center for the study of Nam June Paik’s achievements.
“Nam June Paik: Global Visionary” is on view at the museum’s main building in Washington, D.C., from Dec. 13 through Aug. 11, 2013. John G. Hanhardt, senior curator of film and media arts and the leading expert on Paik and his global influence, organized the exhibition with the assistance of Michael Mansfield, associate curator of film and media arts.
“Nam June Paik: Global Visionary’ recognizes an artist of many parts, a complex and charismatic figure who revealed the moving image in all its beauty and promise,” said Elizabeth
Broun, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “If Picasso stands astride the first half of the 20th century like a colossus, Nam June Paik is the center of gravity for all that was new in the second half of that 100-year span. We are only now learning how profoundly his imagination embraced and transformed our world.”
Korean-born Paik (1932-2006), known as the “father of video art,” almost single-handedly transformed video into an artist’s medium through his sculptures, installations, videotapes and television projects. Paik is recognized worldwide for his innovative, media-based artwork that is grounded in the practices of avant-garde music and performance art. His art and ideas embodied a radical new vision for an art form that he knew would be embraced around the world and that would change visual culture.
“The exhibition gives viewers the opportunity to experience a full portrait of the artist and also recognizes Paik’s desire to astonish through a playful aesthetic,” said Hanhardt. “It has surprises both for those viewers who have never experienced Paik and for those who feel they know his art.”
The exhibition includes 67 artworks and more than 140 items from the archive. Several rare artworks borrowed from private and public collections in the United States and abroad are featured, including “Random Access (Schallplattenschaschlik)” (1963/1979) from the Vehbi Koç Foundation, “TV Garden” (1974/2000) from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, “Whitney Buddha Complex” (1982) from the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College and Paik’s rarely seen installation “Moon Projection with E Moon and Birds” (1996), on loan from the Paik Estate. Three exceptional artworks from the museum’s collection are included in the exhibition: “Zen for TV” (1963/1976), “Megatron/Matrix” (1995) and “Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii” (1995).
“Nam June Paik: Global Visionary” displays the extraordinary range of the artist’s accomplishments and the complexity of his ideas. It features his personal history through thematic
groupings that draw on the resources of the Nam June Paik Archive. Paik’s writings and the materials he collected reveal the influences of Asian and Western philosophy, as well as developments in technology and science. The museum uses these materials to show the development of his innovative and radical conceptualization of the future roles of communication technologies in the expanding global media culture.
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