Golden era of Korean printed art


Paik, Nam-june Lee Taebaeck Captivated in Color Copperplate print (1984)

As part of the ongoing 2013 Korea Festival in the Asean region, the Korea Foundation, in cooperation with the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea (NMCA Korea) and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, will be launching the exhibit Fifty Years of Korean Contemporary Printmaking on August 1.

The exhibit, which previously had its run in Indonesia, consists of 81 works sourced from NMCA collection of prints from the second half of the 20th century in an effort to introduce the history of Korean printmaking tradition to the Filipinos.

The exhibit will be divided into six periods, starting from the ‘50s, generally regarded as the era where Korean artists used woodblock as their major medium. In the ‘60s, the interest in printmaking grew steadily among the young artists that led to the formation of the Korean Contemporary Printmakers Association in 1968. This period is known as the development period, whereas printmaking between the ‘70s and ‘80s is referred to as the proliferation.

In the ‘70s, printmaking gained a unique stature in the Korean art circles due to the accumulation and enhancement of printmaking techniques.

In 1980, the Minjung printmaking movement came to rise among artists as a means to communicate with the public. Minjung, a Korean term that refers to the masses, increasingly became prevalent in woodblock printing and from this emerged the socially engaged art movement that highlighted social contradictions.

By the ‘90s, printmaking in Korea has become so diversified, which includes the use of computers, alternative art forms, and installation art, among many others.


Youn, Myeung-ro Manifest Dream Silkscreen (1963)

‘Korean wave’
Since May 16, the Korea Foundation, under its president Yu Hyun-Seok, has been staging its “Korea Festival in Asean” program among member countries, in an effort to heighten the presence of Korea in Southeast Asia.

The festival program features a variety of cultural events, including diverse performances and exhibitions, along with lecture presentations to share Korea’s “success stories” with local audiences.

The Korea Foundation implements international exchange programs to enhance mutual understanding and to make friends with peoples from all countries and regions of the world. To build on the worldwide popularity of the “Korean Wave,” the foundation launched a Korea Festival program in 2012 as a comprehensive effort to introduce Korean culture to global audiences. The initial Korea Festival program was held in Brazil, where local residents greatly enjoyed the variety of Korea-related cultural and artistic activities.

Grand finale
The Fifty Years of Korean Contemporary Printmaking exhibition, serves as the grand finale of the Korea Festival in Asean program’s three months of related activities.

Tina Colayco, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila said, “This exhibition in the Philippines is very timely and relevant, given that tremendous interest currently enjoyed by contemporary art from various parts of the world, most specially from Asia.”

From its collection of more than 300 printmaking works, the National Museum of Modern Arts has selected some 80 items for the exhibition, including “Lee Taebaeck Captivated in Color,” by Nam-june Paik; ‘From the coal miner’s journal- coal mining,” by Jai-hyoung Hwang; and ‘Story of Forest” by Sea-young Oh.

The exhibition, with an overview of the artistic achievements of Korean printmaking, covers a wide range of processes, like wood print, copper print, lithography, silkscreen, and digital print, which result in unique print works.

There are also examples of whimsical printmaking works of the world-renowned artist Nam-june Paik, as well as various award-winning works and representative works of printmaking that were created amidst the pro-democracy movement in the 1980s, along with abstract printmaking works of the post-war period.

By displaying works of various methods and times, the exhibition reveals the features of Korea’s modern arts and its evolution.

This exhibition, which represents a meaningful endeavor for Korea and the Philippines to effectuate cultural exchange, is being presented so that Asean audiences can better understand and appreciate the creativity of Korea’s print artists.

On August 1 at 10 a.m., Hwang Yoon-jung, NMCA curator is set to deliver a curator’s talk and at 3 p.m., Chung Hyung-min, the director of NMCA will conduct a special lecture at the MET Museum. The public is cordially invited and encouraged to reserve a slot.


Kwak, Nam-sin INRI Casting clay, collagraphy (1995)

The exhibit is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Korea, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines, and the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines.

It will be open to the public until August 24.

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is located at the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Manila. Museum hours are from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday to Saturday. For details, call 708-7829. or log on to


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