Exposition : « Korea Rediscovered! Treasures from German Museums », 28 juin-9 septembre 2012


Panneau de paravent "munjado" © Frankfurt, Museum of Applied Art

Korea Rediscovered! Treasures from German Museums

Frankfurt, Museum of Applied Art

28 juin 2012 – 09 septembre 2012

Press release :

A fierce tiger, who snarls at a little bird as decor on a horn box, the sculpture of a dreamy looking temple boy attendant, two monumental wooden village guardians with their teeth bared – all this represents the art of a fascinating country that still has to be discovered in the shadow of its powerful neighbours China and Japan.


Following an initiative of the Berlin office of the KOREA FOUNDATION four German Museums for the first time present an overview of the often hidden treasures of Korean Art in German museums. The exhibits are from the Linden-Museum Stuttgart, the Museum for East Asian Art Cologne, the Grassi Museum Leipzig, the Museum of Applied Art Frankfurt, the Museum for Asian Art as well as the Ethnological Museum Berlin, the Museum of Ethnology and the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, the Gutenberg-Museum Mainz and the Mission Museum St. Ottilien.


The project is of high academic value and from the beginning it caused a stir among experts. At the same time it provides also a real discovery for the layperson, because it puts into focus an old East Asian culture which has so far been largely neglected in the West. The exhibition presents more than one hundred high-quality works of painting, calligraphy, sculpture, ceramics, textile, lacquer and metal art, as well as furniture, wood and jade objects covering a period of two millennia, which are introduced in detail in an extensive, richly illustrated catalogue. In this show Korea may be experienced as a country that developed its own profile clearly held up against its neighbours China and Japan


Generally speaking, Korean Art may be characterized by its extraordinary sense of form, a specific vitality of design, far away from all kinds of formalism and mannerism. This is true for painting, calligraphy and sculpture as well as for the applied arts. For instance, if one compares Korean celadon ceramics of the Goryeo Dynasty (918 – 1392) with its Song Dynasty models from China, two things are striking: on the one hand Korean potters reveal superb technical and artistic skills, in no way inferior to their Chinese colleagues. On the other hand they are, out of a deliberate artistic concept, ready to step aside from symmetry, evenness and perfection, both in form and surface. Already then the basis was laid for a specific Korean aesthetic concept of the dynamic und spontaneous, resisting lifeless perfection. Elements of folk art turn accordingly up into the highest circles of court art. This applies particularly to the art of the Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1910). It is because of this aesthetic peculiarity that Korea came into focus of an international modern movement in the early 20th century that was in search of a beauty of the archaic.


Hwagak, détail d’une boîte en corne de buffle peinte, 17,5 x 20,3 x 20,7 cm, fin de l’époque Choson, 19e siècle © photo: Uwe Dettmar, Frankfurt, Museum of Applied Art


In spite of the basic character of Korean Art described above it must be emphasized that in Old Korea there has always been a clearly defined boundary between a visual language of elegance, reservation and literary quality, more or less linked to Confucianism, and the above-mentioned elements of folk art, in which spontaneity in expression and fresh colours prevail. Furthermore, the Buddhist Art of Korea shows, despite regional peculiarities, a remarkable resemblance with the traditions of Buddhist Painting of the neighbouring countries, especially to China.



You may download here the full press release.


Frankfurt, Museum of Applied Art

Museum für Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt

Schaumainkai 17

60594 Frankfurt am Main

Phone +49 69 212-34037

Fax +49 69 212-30703



Source : Frankfurt, Museum of Applied Art


Compte rendu en français de l’exposition « Une redécouverte de la Corée ! Les trésors des musées allemands » par Maya Stiller (publié dans la revue KOREANA):

« Les musées allemands dévoilent leurs trésors coréens ».



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