South Korea's introduction to American Art

Four prominent institutions from the US have come together to organise and deliver a far-reaching exhibition in South Korea. The show has been conceived as a fitting introduction to the variety of art produced by artists over the last 300 years in America, remarkable for being the first major display of its kind in the Asian country.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH); the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA); and the Terra Foundation for American Art (TFAA) worked closely with the National Museum of Korea (NMK) to make this a reality.
Kim Youngna, director of NMK, said that her museum has long been committed to promoting world history and culture. She believes that this exhibition is something of a landmark and a great opportunity for South Koreans to gain a better understanding of the US through the medium of art.
This nation’s knowledge of American art, it has to be added, isn’t so parochial, explained Seung-ik Kim, NMK’s lead curator for the exhibition and a specialist in Korean modern art and visual culture.
She said: “Many Koreans are aware of American artists such as Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol, and familiar with post-1960s American art, but not with the work of artists of earlier periods such as John Singleton Copley, Thomas Cole, Winslow Homer, and Thomas Eakins.”
Over 100 paintings have been carefully selected to showcase a variety of styles, of movements and preoccupations. Moreover, in the context of this exhibition, the works have been exclusively chosen to help explain the connection between American art and the country’s national identity.
The paintings have been arranged across six sections, including American People, American Landscapes—East to West, Daily Life in Art, Cosmopolitan America, Modern America, and American Art after 1945.
This allows for various historical insights to be made about certain periods, which, as a whole, paint as accurate a picture of what America has been and what it is today, elaborated Austen Barron Bailly, associate curator of American Art at LACMA.
“Sections will highlight the significance of portraiture and landscape painting to the development of an American art history, nineteenth-century genre painting as an expression of American society, American artists’ abroad and their myriad responses to Modernism, among other subjects,” he explained.
Art Across America at the National Museum of Korea runs from June 17th until September 1st 2013.
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