<modern korean painting> Exhibition Hall : 5. Establishment of Western Art Circles

Ewha Womans University Museum

Ewha Womans University Museum
Seoul, South Korea

The emergence of Western-style artistry in modern Korea began under the leadership of Ko Hui-dong, who graduated from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in 1915 with a degree in Western paintings, along with other students who had also studied Western art in Japan. Through the return of painters who had studied in Europe, the establishment of various art organizations, as well as the institution of exhibitions, the movement achieved rapid growth. Establishment of Western Art Circles seeks to examine the portraits, landscapes, and still life paintings produced by key painters of academism that formed the foundation of Western-style artistry, as well as artworks that pioneered modern abstract art and demonstrated the coexistence of the designed and the abstract.
This form of Western-style artistry is notable for portraits that thematically focus on the ego of individuals, and features key elements such as Western furniture, clothing, books, and tools for oil paintings, which were recognized as symbols of the new culture and representative aspects of the lives of modern intellectuals. Furthermore, the act of actually confronting the surrounding scenery and to feel and depict the ever-changing impressions therein represents the shift into modernistic creative activities. Depicting various objects, flowers, and fruit, still life paintings saw the development of expressive techniques based on realism and the rising emphasis on symbolic elements that express the consciousness of the artist, as well as the endeavor to convey uniquely Korean sensibilities. On the other hand, it is also possible to examine pieces that contributed to the development of Western-style artistry in Korea by introducing experimental and avant-garde forms of art such as cubism and abstract art. As pioneer works that laid the foundation and created new grounds for Western-style artistry in Korea, such artistic endeavors allow the viewer to gain an understanding of the sensibilities of the times as pursued by Western-style artists amid the rapid changes in the traditional ways of life and cognitive structures.


  • Title: <modern korean painting> Exhibition Hall : 5. Establishment of Western Art Circles

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