Korean Abstract Painting

A Formation of Korean Avant-Garde (Contemporary Korean Arts Series #10)


Adopting Spirit of Resistance
Formation of the Post-war Korean Abstract Painting
Creations or new movements come from criticism on the convention such as the movements of the US and Europe in the modern painting after the World War II. In the West which had made remarkable development of knowledge and technology, the extremely unreasonable two world wars began. The artists who experienced the war, showed the movement of avant-garde, that is different and innovative: Abstract Expressionism in the US and Art Informel in Europe. Conventional arts merely focused on reproducing objects according to the logical reasons and compositions, whereas, these two movements put importance in artists’ action, intuition, and expression mode in making art.
This book explores the formation of the post-war Korean abstract painting. This volume firstly looks into the development of Korean abstract painting in the contemporary context. That is because Korean abstraction formed by contemporary stream such as Japanese colonial rule, independence, the Korean war, the Cold War, and American Abstract Expressionism and Art Informel of Europe. Under Japanese colonial rule, Korean artists were deprived of advanced modern art and the opportunity to interpret it subjectively themselves. Moreover Korean war and the Cold War made collective Korean artists underwent crisis of identity. Therefore, Korean artists’ rejection of conventional aesthetic principles and the institutionalized system could be aptly characterized as avant-garde.
This book, secondly, introduces representative eight Korean Abstract painters: Chang Ucchin, Kim Whan-ki, Yoo Young-kuk, Kim Byung-ki, Park Seo-bo, Chun Sung-woo, Youn Myeung-ro, and Choi Wook-kyung. Most of them used to be influenced by American Abstract Expressionism and Informel in Europe. However, they did not stick to foreign style and accepted it by means of spirit of criticism. Korean artists also used color stimulating psychology based on Korean sensitivity and concentrated on their independent thinking and action. Informel contributed to the formation of the avant-garde in Korea not with its style but with its spirit of resistance, and moreover, with its search for freedom in creation.


Hee-Young Kim

  • BA in English Language & Literature, Seoul National University
  • MFA in Art Theory, Seoul National University
  • MA in Art History, University of Chicago
  • Ph.D. in Art History, University of Iowa
  • Professor of Department of Fine Art, Kookmin University
  • Former Professor at Hanyang University and the University of Alabama, USA
  • Art historian and art critic
160 pp.
LC# 2013949136
Softcover 15 x 22.5 cm
ISBN-13: 9781565913394
ISBN-10: 1565913396

Contemporary Korean Arts Series: