Korean contemporary art might appear impenetrable to non-Korean speakers, but Art Radar is here to help you access the peninsula’s vibrant art scene.
For people who don’t speak Korean or read Hangul, trying to find online information about Korean art can be tough, so Art Radar asked independent curator and academic Kate Korroch to tell us the best digital resources for Korea-curious contemporary art lovers.
The digital sphere offers a relatively limited number of resources on contemporary South Korean art in English, especially compared to Korea’s East Asian neighbours. Although online resources for English-speaking art professionals are becoming more abundant, a need still exists for varied and critical debate among the online art community.
To help you make the most of South Korea’s exciting art scene, here are the best online resources that feature contemporary Korean art. Ranging from online archives to critical reviews, as a collection these virtual spaces allow anyone with internet access to delve into the rich contemporary art scene flowing out of the Korea peninsula.
This substantial archive of South Korean artists, exhibitions and spaces provides various search tools for each category, allowing the user to easily excavate information. The “artists” section provides a profile of hundreds of artists, usually with a chronology, images, and essays. But be warned- most profiles are complete, but some are missing information.
The exhibition section allows users to search for exhibitions from 2005 onwards and connects back to the artist profiles. The final section, “spaces”, provides a map of different areas in Seoul and the provinces with links to different art spaces. Currently, many Seoul spaces are changing location so always verify the address if you’re planning a visit.
Site-specific artwork around Seoul is the main focus of this resource. In addition, Sitecited features essays, editorials, interviews, and art reviews by a variety of culture critics. Less mainstream information is provided through refreshing, critical writing.
Scholarly articles about Asian art from the eighteenth century to today are the focus of this resource. The journal is written for a global audience and the articles are all peer reviewed. For a small fee, Modern Art Asia provides critical concentration on select topics.
Though best known for its world news, this English language Korean newspaper has a regularly updated arts section. The articles cover various subjects including reviews of contemporary art, from the occasional western based artists exhibiting in Seoul to Nam June Paik’s continuing legacy.
In 1961, this journal was founded in association with UNESCO. With quarterly publications, Korea Journal covers a variety of topics usually within the humanities and often connected to arts and culture. The website is very user friendly and enables one to easily search by topic.
With locations in both New York and Seoul, Doosan Gallery and Artist Residency sends frequent newsletters about upcoming exhibitions and artists in residence. Doosan focuses on up and coming and mid-career artists. With artists regularly moving through both spaces, the newsletter provides a useful resource for finding South Korean artists.
This decade-old print magazine reviews contemporary art and culture in Asia, the Pacific and the Middle East. One feature that is particularly useful on their website, linked above, is an Arts Almanac page about each country paired with links to recent news articles or blog entries. Though not specific to Korea, the Almanac provides information about both North and South Korea.
If you’re ever in Hong Kong, make sure to go visit AAA. The archive is full of books, essays, exhibition catalogues and various other materials on art and artists connected to Asia. For South Korea in particular, the collection has a number of primary resources and is continuing to grow. Until you’re able to stop by Hong Kong, the online database is a useful source and allows you to search using a variety of criteria. If you can’t find what you need online, the staff is very responsive via email.
A bit more complicated but useful if you know what you’re looking for. Naver is South Korea’s Google. You can try to search using your native language but if you can take a few moments to figure out your search terms in the Korean script Hangul, you’ll find a trove of information through this browser. A note on learning Korean or Hangul: Hangul is phonetic with 24 consonants and vowels; one can learn the alphabet in a few hours. Learning the actual language is another story.
- The top online resources for Chinese contemporary art – curator Rachel Marsden’s tips – January 2014 – the first in our 3 part series on digital Chinese art resources
- Art and Seoul: Where to see contemporary art in South Korea’s capital – November 2013 – mapping the megalopolis, one art space at a time
- Giant cyborgs and miniature humanoids: Male nudes in South Korean art – August 2013 – as the crisis in masculinity hits home, Korean artists re-imagine the male form
- Deep breaths with Kimsooja at the 55th Venice Biennale’s South Korean pavilion – July 2013 – Kimsooja brings rainbows and refracted light to the world’s biggest art event
- Supplementary skins: The female nude in South Korean contemporary art – June 2013 – the naked truth can conceal a surprising amount
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