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Rizzoli publishes monograph on Korean artist Yoo Young-kuk

Rizzoli New York published a monograph on Korean artist Yoo Young-kuk titled 'Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence' / Courtesy of Kukje Gallery
Rizzoli New York published a monograph on Korean artist Yoo Young-kuk titled 'Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence' / Courtesy of Kukje Gallery

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Artist Yoo Young-kuk (1916-2002) Korea Times file
Artist Yoo Young-kuk (1916-2002) Korea Times file


Rizzoli New York will release an English monograph on Korean abstract artist Yoo Young-kuk (1916-2002), Dec. 1, the first book of its kind on a Korean artist by the prestigious art book publisher.

Titled "Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence," the 360-page book features a wide range of Yoo's works from seminal masterpieces to never-before-seen works.

Dubbed as a "magician of colors," Yoon is one of the pioneers of modern Korean abstract art, best known for his vibrant vocabulary that distilled Korean naturalism into basic formal elements of point, line, plane and color.

"Reminiscent of the deep waters, rugged mountains, fertile valleys and brilliant sun of his Uljin hometown, Yoo's powerful aesthetic draws viewers into the quintessence of nature in a directly emotional way," the publisher said in a statement.

Yoo was born in Uljin, Gangwon Province (present-day North Gyeongsang Province) in 1916, during the Japanese occupation of Korea. He went to Japan to pursue his art studies, and graduated from the Art Department at Bunka Gakuin University in Tokyo in 1938.

He taught at the Department of Applied Arts at Seoul National University from 1948 to 1950, and the College of Fine Arts at Hongik University from 1966 to 1970. Yoo was a committee member and head judge of Western Painting for the National Art Exhibition of Korea in 1970.

The artist held many exhibitions in and outside Korea, including the seventh Sao Paulo Biennial in 1963, the ninth Tokyo Biennial in 1967 and the Invitational Exhibition of Salon de Mai at Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1978.

He received the Bogwan third class of the Order of Cultural Merit in 1984.

Rizzoli New York has published a monograph on Korean artist Yoo Young-kuk titled 'Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence' / Courtesy of Kukje Gallery
Rizzoli New York has published a monograph on Korean artist Yoo Young-kuk titled 'Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence' / Courtesy of Kukje Gallery

"Whenever I hit a dead end in my creative work, I think that there must be a way to get through it. So each work is nothing more than a process for the next work, which serves as the foundation for me to continue," the artist was quoted saying in the "100th Anniversary of Korean Modern Master: Yoo Youngkuk 1916-2002" exhibit held at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary (MMCA), Korea in 2016.

The book's author Rosa Maria Falvo, an independent writer and curator based in Milan, wrote, "Yoo's forms are fluid and evolving, not bound to objects, while their geometries crystallize his expression. Nature was undeniably his muse and this special bond, based on wonder and humility, was a wholesome antidote to the lust for destruction and tragedy he witnessed in his life-time."

The book also includes commentaries from acclaimed art theorists. Gabriel Ritter, head of contemporary art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, wrote "Nature Within, Nature Without," a chronology of Yoo's pursuit of pure geometric abstraction upon internalizing the Japanese avant-garde and the Korean Informel movement in his early years. Kim In-hye, the MMCA curator who organized Yoo's retrospective in 2016, contributed "Seeking Absolute Freedom," looking into the development of Yoo's unique abstract painting practice within both the historical and art contexts of Japan and Korea.

Bartomeu Mari, former director of the MMCA and currently the executive director of the Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru, wrote "Navigating the Avant-garde," reflects the introduction of the avant-garde movement in Korea, one of the most hermetic nations of modern world history, through Yoo's works.
Rizzoli New York published a monograph on Korean artist Yoo Young-kuk titled 'Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence' / Courtesy of Kukje Gallery
Rizzoli New York published a monograph on Korean artist Yoo Young-kuk titled 'Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence' / Courtesy of Kukje Gallery

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Artist Yoo Young-kuk (1916-2002) Korea Times file
Artist Yoo Young-kuk (1916-2002) Korea Times file


Rizzoli New York will release an English monograph on Korean abstract artist Yoo Young-kuk (1916-2002), Dec. 1, the first book of its kind on a Korean artist by the prestigious art book publisher.

Titled "Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence," the 360-page book features a wide range of Yoo's works from seminal masterpieces to never-before-seen works.

Dubbed as a "magician of colors," Yoon is one of the pioneers of modern Korean abstract art, best known for his vibrant vocabulary that distilled Korean naturalism into basic formal elements of point, line, plane and color.

"Reminiscent of the deep waters, rugged mountains, fertile valleys and brilliant sun of his Uljin hometown, Yoo's powerful aesthetic draws viewers into the quintessence of nature in a directly emotional way," the publisher said in a statement.

Yoo was born in Uljin, Gangwon Province (present-day North Gyeongsang Province) in 1916, during the Japanese occupation of Korea. He went to Japan to pursue his art studies, and graduated from the Art Department at Bunka Gakuin University in Tokyo in 1938.

He taught at the Department of Applied Arts at Seoul National University from 1948 to 1950, and the College of Fine Arts at Hongik University from 1966 to 1970. Yoo was a committee member and head judge of Western Painting for the National Art Exhibition of Korea in 1970.

The artist held many exhibitions in and outside Korea, including the seventh Sao Paulo Biennial in 1963, the ninth Tokyo Biennial in 1967 and the Invitational Exhibition of Salon de Mai at Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1978.

He received the Bogwan third class of the Order of Cultural Merit in 1984.

Rizzoli New York has published a monograph on Korean artist Yoo Young-kuk titled 'Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence' / Courtesy of Kukje Gallery
Rizzoli New York has published a monograph on Korean artist Yoo Young-kuk titled 'Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence' / Courtesy of Kukje Gallery

"Whenever I hit a dead end in my creative work, I think that there must be a way to get through it. So each work is nothing more than a process for the next work, which serves as the foundation for me to continue," the artist was quoted saying in the "100th Anniversary of Korean Modern Master: Yoo Youngkuk 1916-2002" exhibit held at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary (MMCA), Korea in 2016.

The book's author Rosa Maria Falvo, an independent writer and curator based in Milan, wrote, "Yoo's forms are fluid and evolving, not bound to objects, while their geometries crystallize his expression. Nature was undeniably his muse and this special bond, based on wonder and humility, was a wholesome antidote to the lust for destruction and tragedy he witnessed in his life-time."

The book also includes commentaries from acclaimed art theorists. Gabriel Ritter, head of contemporary art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, wrote "Nature Within, Nature Without," a chronology of Yoo's pursuit of pure geometric abstraction upon internalizing the Japanese avant-garde and the Korean Informel movement in his early years. Kim In-hye, the MMCA curator who organized Yoo's retrospective in 2016, contributed "Seeking Absolute Freedom," looking into the development of Yoo's unique abstract painting practice within both the historical and art contexts of Japan and Korea.

Bartomeu Mari, former director of the MMCA and currently the executive director of the Museo de Arte de Lima in Peru, wrote "Navigating the Avant-garde," reflects the introduction of the avant-garde movement in Korea, one of the most hermetic nations of modern world history, through Yoo's works.
Kwon Mee-yoo meeyoo@koreatimes.co.kr

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