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Lecture Series

Exhibiting Asia in the 21st Century


Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method

Saturday, October 5, 1 pm
Joan Kee, assistant professor, Department of History of Art, University of Michigan

Starting in the mid-1960s, a group of Korean artists began to push paint, soak canvas, drag pencils, rip paper, and otherwise manipulate materials in ways that were described as "methods" rather than artworks. A crucial artistic movement of twentieth-century Korea, Tansaekhwa, or monochromatic painting, became the international face of contemporary Korean art and a cornerstone of contemporary Asian art.

Joan Kee examines how Tansaekhwa artists made a case for abstraction as a way for viewers to engage productively with the world and its systems. These artists recognized that overwhelming forces, such as decolonization and authoritarianism, could be approached through highly individual experiences that asked viewers to consider how they understood their world rather than why.

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Photo by Mitra Mahasseni