Exposition “Korean Art from the United States”, Musée national de Corée, Séoul
Korean Art from the United States
미국, 한국미술을 만나다
(“Les arts de la Corée dans les collections américaines”)
5 juin-5 août 2012
Musée national de Corée, Séoul
Afin de célébrer le 130e anniversaire de l’établissement de relations diplomatiques entre la Corée et les Etats-Unis, le Musée national de Corée à Séoul avec le soutien de la Fondation de Corée vient d’inaugurer récemment une nouvelle exposition intitulée Korean Art from the United States. Les visiteurs pourront découvrir jusqu’au 5 août 2012 une sélection de plus de 80 objets issus de neuf collections muséales américaines.
L’exposition divisée en trois sections retrace dans sa première partie « Collectionner les arts de la Corée » l’histoire de la formation des collections d’art coréen dans les musées américains depuis la fin du XIXe siècle. La seconde « Exposer les arts de la Corée » présente de manière chronologique la création de chaque galerie d’art coréen dans les musées américains, à commencer par le Musée d’art de Honolulu (Honolulu Museum of Art) qui inaugura la première galerie d’art coréen en 1927. Enfin la dernière partie de l’exposition « Promouvoir les arts de la Corée » évoque les activités des différents musées à travers l’organisation d’expositions et la publication de catalogues.
Une nouvelle galerie d’art coréen sera inaugurée en 2013 au Musée d’art de Cleveland (Cleveland Museum of Art).
Présentation de l’exposition (en anglais) :
From June 5 to August 5, the NMK and the Korea Foundation host the special exhibition, Korean Art from the United States, bringing together major works from the Korean collections of American museums. Consisting of three sections, this exhibition presents more than 80 Korean artworks held by nine major museums in the United States.
Section 1 « Collecting Korean Arts » explores the history of Korean art collection in American museums. In the late 19th century when Joseon (1392-1910) opened the door to foreign nations, Americans began to collect Korean artworks, focusing on pottery and porcelain, especially celadon pieces. U.S. museums also started collecting Korean arts from the end of the 19th century onwards, and for instance, the inlaid celadon vase from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, was purchased by the MFA Boston from Edward Morse (1838-1925). In the late 19th century, the Joseon royal family would occasionally present artworks to diplomatic delegations and foreign officials in charge of affairs related to the royal family, and the Celadon Ewer with Lotus Design that Brooklyn Museum of Art received from the Underwood family, who served in Korea as missionaries, presumably falls into this category. The celadon kundika (ewer) with incised parrot design that the Cleveland Museum of Art received from John L. Severance (1863-1936), son of Louis H. Severance (1838-1913), an industrialist who helped found Severance Hospital in Seoul, shows a connection with Korea spanning generations. However, not all Korean arts were recognized as of Korean origin. For example, Amitabha and Ksitigarbha from the Metropolitan Museum of Art had been mistaken for Chinese until the 1970’s when it eventually turned out to be Korean in origin.
The “Masterpieces of Korean Art” exhibition held in major US museums from 1957 to 1959 served as an opportunity for Americans to change their views on Korean art, and thereafter, as the presentation of the “5000 Years of Korean Art” exhibition (1979-81) coincided with the accumulation of research results on the history of Korean art, US museums has been steadily expanding their Korean art collections, thanks to support from local communities.
Section 2 « Exhibiting Korean Arts » displays Korean artworks from the major US museums, arranged by museum in a sequence that represents the opening years of their Korean galleries. The first US museum to have a dedicated gallery of Korean art was the Honolulu Museum of Art, an institution that has been attentive to ethnic and cultural diversity from its inception. The Korean Gallery at the Honolulu Museum of Art was established in 1927 when the museum opened to the public, and this exhibition brings together the inlaid celadon ewer with lotus blossom scroll design, the wooden statue of child attendant, and the painting of Sakyamuni Buddha lecturing on the Dharma, all of which appear in the photo of the exhibition venue taken at that time.
In 1989, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, for the first time in the US, established the Korean Art Department and appointed Korean Art curators, thus greatly promoting Korean art exhibitions and research projects. Among the museum’s Korean collection, most notable are the celadon ewer with an elegant form and a superb glaze color and the gilt-bronze standing Buddha made in the style in vogue at the height of the Unified Silla period, both of which are part of the Avery Brundage (1887-1975) collection donated to the Museum. Thanks to rigorous support by cultural organizations of Korea, the number of Korean galleries in US museums jumped in the 1990s and 2000s.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art opened the Korean Gallery in 1992, and the Korean Heritage Group of the Philadelphia Museum of Art was formed by the local figures of the community in 1997. As a result, its Korean collection expanded, and its exhibitions, research and education programs on Korean art have been bolstered. The Celadon Vase (Maebyeong) with Lotus Blossoms boasting elaborate designs and form once belonged to John Morgan (1837-1913), who founded J.P. Morgan and Company. Also on display are the art pieces from the Brooklyn Museum, which established the Korean Gallery in 1974, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which established the Korean Gallery in 1978, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, which established the Korean Gallery in 1982, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has collected Korean artworks since the end of the 19th century, Harvard’s Arthur M. Sackler Museum, and the Cleveland Museum of Art, which plans to open the Korean Gallery in 2013.
Finally, Section 3 « Promoting Korean Art » sheds light on the activities of Korean galleries and special exhibitions on Korean art in US museums. On view are catalogues of Korean galleries and special exhibitions, and educational materials, etc. This year marks the 130th anniversary of the establishment of the Korea-US diplomatic relations, and this exhibition will provide an opportunity for visitors to gain a greater appreciation of the status of Korean art in the US that has changed over the past century.