Exhibit tries to prove you can judge a book by its cover

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Exhibit tries to prove you can judge a book by its cover


“Book art” pieces by Park Yeong-ri (top) and An Jeong-min (above) are among about 80 works on display at the “Book [Pan]” exhibition at the National Library of Korea. Provided by the library

They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes the design and the whole package are just so well presented that they can be considered art in their own right.

At the National Library of Korea, “book art” by 36 members of the Korea Book Art Association are being presented, along with some patterns found on ancient Korean books.

Titled “Book [Pan],” the exhibition is co-organized by the library and the association. It is a short one, running for just two weeks from Nov. 25, but includes approximately 80 installations, visual art, prints and more inspired by or dedicated to books.

But what exactly is “book art”?

The library says it’s “a lot of things.”

“Book art initially referred to three-dimensional artwork in the form of a book,” said the library’s Choi Hun-chang in a press release,

“But recently, with artists’ creative ideas, it has evolved into more diverse forms.”

As a result of such a trend, library officials say the works on display are a blend of different forms, ranging from visual art and wood-cut prints to etchings and lithography.

Juxtaposed with these contemporary works are 11 patterns found on ancient Korean books in the library’s collection.


A pattern featuring taepyeonghwa (a pattern of petals and leaves) within diamonds has often been used on the covers of ancient Korean books since the 16th century. Provided by the library

Officials say there were a whopping 35,000 different patterns used on the covers of old Korean books, describing them as “graceful, detail-oriented and unique.”

Two patterns were used the most on the covers of old Korean books. One features taepyeonghwa (petals and leaves) within diamonds, which originated in the 16th century; the other includes lotus flowers and bosanghwa, an imaginary flower, which was introduced in the seventh century.

“We aim to shed light on artistic and educational values of book art and print art, and also hope ancient book patterns will be transmitted and evolved in a contemporary aesthetics,” the library said.



The “Book [Pan]” exhibition runs until Dec. 7 at the digital library of National Library of Korea in Seocho District, southern Seoul, to Dec. 7.

The library is near Seocho Station (line 2), exit 6, Express Bus Terminal Station (line 3, 7, and 9), exit 5.
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