Art History Collection of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art: The DONG-A ILBO


The “To Art, To the World” exhibition held at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Cheongju shows how art museums collected international works of art from the 1970s to the 2000s. four pieces of art, including sculpture, drawing, painting, by 96 artists of various nationalities are exhibited.

“We found that the artworks did not share much commonality in terms of the nationality of the artists or the date of completion. Thus, we categorized the pieces by when they were collected and designed the spaces exhibition spaces so that they can be viewed individually,” said Lee Hyo-jin, an art and science researcher at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.

Of the 8,785 pieces held by the museum outside the Lee Kun-hee art collection, 925 come from overseas. Seventy-two percent or 668 works of art belonged to the museum before 2000, as the museum focused on expanding its international collection from the 1980s to 2000s. The museum relaxed donation regulations in response to reviews of his limited collection, which encouraged donations during the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Artist Paik Nam June had led purchases of artwork by Andy Warhol and Bulgarian installation artist Christo Javacheff.

Initially, the collection started on the basis of diplomatic relations or personal relations with certain artists, such as the work entitled “Void of people on Empty Mountain (1978)” by Chinese artist Liu Ye Jiao. The work was donated by the artist after an exhibition held in Seoul in 1978. It became the first international artwork acquired by the museum.

The exhibition features “Grand Canyon South Rim with Oct 1982” by David Hockney, donated by the Korean Modern Art Association in 1991, as well as the vibrant colors and dynamic design of Jean Messagier featured in “La Rencontre de Jean Battista Tiepolo and Vincent Van Gogh (1987)”. This last painting was offered by the International Exhibition of Modern Painting organized by the museum after the International Festival of Modern Art organized on the sidelines of the Seoul Olympics.

“Before the Olympics, there were limits to collecting international art. With globalization, however, we have seen more international exhibitions held in Korea, opening up more opportunities for the museum to acquire international artworks,” Lee explained. “We continue to acquire works of art because we have not accepted donations since 1992,” she said. The exhibition remains open until June 12 with free entry.

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