Nam June Paik: Global Visionary
December 13, 2012–August 11, 2013
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Eighth and F Streets N.W.
Hours: daily, 11:30–7pm
The artwork and ideas of Nam June Paik (1932–2006) were a major influence on late 20th-century art and continue to inspire a new generation of artists. Nam June Paik: Global Visionary offers an unprecedented view into the artist’s creative method by featuring key artworks that convey Paik’s extraordinary accomplishments as a major international artist as well as material drawn from the Nam June Paik Archive, which was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum from the artist’s estate in 2009. The archive, along with several significant works by Paik on permanent public view, has established the museum as the international center for the study of Nam June Paik’s achievements.
Korean-born Paik, known as the “father of video art,” almost single-handedly transformed video into an artist’s medium through his sculptures, installations, videotapes and television projects. Paik is recognized worldwide for his innovative, media-based artwork that is grounded in the practices of avant-garde music and performance art. His art and ideas embodied a radical new vision for an art form that he knew would be embraced around the world and that would change visual culture.
The exhibition includes 67 artworks and more than 140 items from the archive. Several rare artworks borrowed from private and public collections in the United States and abroad are featured, including Random Access (Schallplattenschaschlik) (1963; 1979) from the Vehbi Koç Foundation, TV Garden (1974; 2000) from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Buddha Complex (1981–1985) from the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College and Paik’s rarely seen installation Moon Projection with E Moon and Birds (1996), on loan from the Paik Estate. Three exceptional artworks from the museum’s collection are included in the exhibition: Zen for TV (1963; 1976), Megatron/Matrix (1995) and Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii (1995). John G. Hanhardt, senior curator of film and media arts and the leading expert on Paik and his global influence, organized the exhibition with the assistance of Michael Mansfield, associate curator of film and media arts.
Nam June Paik: Global Visionary displays the extraordinary range of the artist’s accomplishments and the complexity of his ideas. It features his personal history through thematic groupings that draw on the resources of the Nam June Paik Archive. The museum uses these materials to show the development of his innovative and radical conceptualization of the future roles of communication technologies in the expanding global media culture.
The exhibition catalog, written by Hanhardt, is co-published by the museum and D Giles Limited.
Art and Process—A Daylong Celebration
A daylong celebration of Paik’s artistic legacy, Nam June Paik: Art and Process is scheduled for Sunday, April 14, 2013. A symposium will take place from 1 to 4pm; confirmed participants include Edith Decker-Phillips, independent scholar; Stephen Vitiello, artist; Jud Yalkut, artist; Greg Zinman, independent scholar; and Hanhardt. At 4:30pm, Mansfield will lead a gallery talk. From 7 to 8:30pm, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Academy Award- and Grammy Award-winning musician and composer will join Steina Vasulka, artist, and Vitiello to perform musical works by Paik or those inspired by the artist. Details and a full schedule of events will be available on the museum’s website.
Nam June Paik: Global Visionary is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins; Barney A. Ebsworth; Marilou and Ken Hakuta; Maureen and Gene Kim; Korea Foundation; Wendy and Jerry H. Labowitz; Paula and Peter Lunder; Share Fund of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region; The Starec Trust; Roselyne Chroman Swig; and the Barbara & Howard Wise Endowment for the Arts.
Links to an interactive digital archive, slide show of selected artworks, and photographs and time-lapse videos documenting the installation of the exhibition are online at www.americanart.si.edu/paik.