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Kim Whanki: A Critical Biography

Translated by:
Publisher: , 1998
Link to online store *

From the publisher’s website:

Kim Whanki (1913-1974) is one of the most representative painters in modern Korean fine-art. Combining eastern instinct with Western logic, his paintings describe Korean characteristics and a sharp modernity through his paintings which embrace both concrete and abstract themes. During his career, he consistently pursued the theme of “Korean eternity.” He was called the “Picasso of East Asia,” an appellation which reflects his various techniques.

At the beginning of his career, Kim displayed elements of futurism and constructionistic themes. From the time of the Independence of Korea until his quitting for Paris, he depicted Korean taste and poetic sentiment through images of the moon, mountains, clouds, storks, and bare trees. While living in Paris, he reimplemented these topics using extremely simplified lines which formed circular patterns, filling up the canvas standing for mountains, trees, jars, and the moon. His works after repatriation were continuation from his Paris-era, with patterns more simplified and implied meanings deepened. During those 10 years from his departure for New York until his death, his works showed great change. His sketches comprised numerous dots and lines expressing the infinity of abstract space.

This book displays his works from his study in Tokyo until his death, chronologically and with color illustrations. It is the first critical biography to look at his life and his works together. A kindly introduction of the artist, the text quotes a variety of opinions by several noted critics, and also provides objective descriptions of Kim Whanki the man. It is also published in English.

Oh Kwang-su (1938- ), an art critic, worked as the chief-editor of the fine-arts journal Gonggan (Space). He worked as the director of the Whanki Museum, and lectured at Hong Ik University and Ewha Womans University. He himself has also written several books on fine arts.

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