New book series examines trends in contemporary Korean art

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New book series examines trends in contemporary Korean art

A new book series examining trends in contemporary Korean art has been published in English to give foreign readers a broad picture of the arts in Korea today.

The first four volumes of the 15-book series, “Contemporary Korean Art,” were published on Aug. 4 and all of the books in the series are written in English. The series, organized by the Arts Council Korea (ARKO), aims to introduce modern Korean art abroad and contribute to the exchange of art between Korea and other countries.

“As the Hallyu [Korean Wave] becomes popular worldwide, people are paying more attention to Korean culture and art,” said Oh Kwang-su, the chairman of ARKO. “Therefore, we will try hard to continuously publish materials on contemporary Korean art in order to promote it to the world.”

The first four volumes of the Contemporary Korean Art Series include: “Daehangno - Theater District in Seoul,” “Diaspora: Korean Nomadism,” “Harmonia Koreana - A Short History of 20th Century Korean Music” and “City as Art - 100 Notable Works of Architecture in Seoul.” The series, published by Hollym, will comprise a total of 15 volumes, however it will not include books on Korean literature or traditional art as there have already been many books on these topics for global readers.

The book “Daehangno - Theater District in Seoul” provides an in-depth explanation of how Daehangno developed into the center of performing arts in Korea. Along the way, the book takes readers on a virtual tour of famous historic sites in the area and draws a lively picture of Korea’s turbulent modern history, from the colonial period to the democracy movements of the 1980s, when the neighborhood served as the backdrop for a generation of young artists dreaming of a better future for the country. There are also descriptions of the theaters, museums and galleries that have made the neighborhood a cultural nexus for the capital city.

The next volume, “Diaspora: Korean Nomadism,” deals with Koran artists who presented their works to the international art world and brought what they achieved abroad to Korea. It traces the lives of some of Korea’s most well-known artists, including Lee U-fan, Paik Nam-june, Suh Do-ho and others who found fame abroad and are now revered in their home country. The book also touches upon the next generation of artists and their works.

“Harmonia Koreana - A Short History of 20th Century Korean Music” describes the entrance of Western classical music into Korean society through hymns taught by Christian missionaries and its eventual incorporation into traditional Korean forms, as well as Korean musicians’ struggle with identity during the process. The book ends with a look at new composers and trends in Korean music.

As its name indicates, “City as Art - 100 Notable Works of Architecture in Seoul” introduces treasures of Korean architecture in Seoul from the 15th century to today and describes architectural preservation efforts in recent years. Included are a history of hanok (traditional Korean housing) and modern architectural styles that incorporate Western architectural ideals as well as creations by international architects for Korea.

The next volumes to be released will be about contemporary Korean dance, popular Korean music and Korean contemporary female visual artists and are to be published in the first half of next year.

By Yang Su-bin Contributing writer []
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