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Article

Sook-Kyung Lee

One of the characteristics of Korean contemporary art is a continuous effort in employing and interpreting international art practices and discourses. Art movements from Europe and North America in particular, including Abstract Expressionism, Art informel, Minimalism, Conceptual art and Post-modernism, have influenced many Korean artists’ styles and ideas since the 1950s, providing formal and conceptual grounds for critical understandings and further experiments. Whilst some artists who maintained traditional art forms such as ink painting and calligraphy exercised modernist styles and abstract forms largely within the norms and conventions of traditional genres, a large group of artists proactively adapted to Western styles, employing new materials and techniques as well as the notions of avant-garde and experimentalism (see fig.).

A major critique of the reception of Western art and aesthetics came from ‘Minjung art’ (People’s Art) in the 1980s as part of instigating a nationalist and politically charged art strategy. Several art historians and critics who emerged in the 1990s also expanded the scope of the debate with postcolonial and pluralist points of view. The shift in social, economic and political environments played an important role in changing sensibilities in art, along with the advances of technology and new media in the 2000s. The high degree of diversity and sophistication of Korean art in terms of media and subject matters became widely acknowledged within and outside the nation, and an increasing number of artists started to work on the cutting edge of international art....

Article

David M. Sokol

(b Okayama, Sept 1, 1893; d Woodstock, NY, May 14, 1953).

American painter, photographer and printmaker of Japanese birth. He arrived in the USA in 1906 and studied at the Los Angeles School of Art and Design from 1907 to 1910. He then moved to New York, studying, in rapid succession, with Robert Henri at the National Academy of Design, at the Independent School of Art and from 1916 to 1920 with Kenneth Hayes Miller at the Art Students League. He supported himself through his later art studies and thereafter as an art photographer. He travelled to Europe in 1925 and again in 1928, settling in Paris, where he studied lithography at the Atelier Desjoubert. After a trip back to Japan in 1931 he worked on the Federal Art Project of the Works Progress Administration during the Depression. Paintings such as Fisherman (1924; New York, MOMA) show both his interest in Surrealism and a blend of his two cultures. His massive forms of the late 1930s and early 1940s, as in ...

Article

Margo Machida

(b Guangzhou, China, Sept 15, 1948).

Chinese multimedia artist. Raised in Hong Kong and Macau, Lee immigrated to the United States in 1973 to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio (BFA 1977), followed by graduate studies at Syracuse University (1977–9). Moving to New York City in 1979, he became actively involved with the burgeoning downtown Manhattan arts community, where he created Graffiti and poster art, as well as outdoor slide theater works. Beginning in the 1980s, Lee co-founded three New York-based arts collectives: Epoxy Art Group (1981–7), Godzilla: Asian American Art Network (1990–2001) and Tomato Grey (2009). The first, Epoxy Art Group, involved project-oriented collaborations with artists from mainland China, Canada and Hong Kong that reflected their intersecting standpoints as Chinese living in the West. Godzilla: Asian American Art Network was a pan-Asian, intergenerational art group. Most recently, with Tomato Grey, Lee became involved with a new cohort of contemporary immigrant artists who endeavor to foster cultural exchange between arts practitioners in Hong Kong and New York City. Lee was a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in New York (...

Article

Reena Jana

[Lee Seung-Hee]

(b Kye-Chang, Korea, 1970).

Korean photographer and filmmaker. Lee is known for her self-portraits, in which she presents herself in various ethnic and societal roles, from a middle-aged, low-income Hispanic party hostess to a young, wealthy Asian businesswoman. Lee received her BFA from the Chung-Ang University in South Korea in 1993, an AAS from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York in 1996, and an MA in Photography, New York University, 1999. For her Projects series (1997–2001), Lee immersed herself in various American communities for extended time, from a clique of teenage skateboarders to executives who work in midtown Manhattan, informing group members of her status as an artist while assuming the wardrobe, hairstyle and mannerisms of a fictional character she sought to portray. She then asked members of these social groups to photograph her using everyday cameras and no enhanced lighting or backgrounds. The result is a series of snapshot-like images depicting the artist taking on a multitude of temporary personalities. When seen together, the photographs suggest a mosaic of American experiences....

Article

Jeremy Lewison

(b Hartford, CT, Sept 9, 1928; d New York, NY, April 8, 2007).

American sculptor, printmaker, and draughtsman. He studied at Syracuse University, NY, from 1945 to 1949, and between 1951 and 1952 he served in the US Army in Japan and Korea, where he was able to visit oriental shrines, temples, and gardens. In 1953 he moved to New York, where he attended the Cartoonists and Illustrators School. From 1955 to 1956 he worked as a graphic designer for the architect I. M. Pei, and he began to make paintings while continuing to work as a graphic designer. He abandoned painting in 1962 and began to make abstract black-and-white reliefs, followed in 1963 by relief constructions with nested enclosures projecting into space, and box- and table-like constructions. He first made the serial and modular works for which he is best known in 1965, an idea inspired in part by the photographs of Eadweard Muybridge. Initially these were wall and floor structures, but in ...

Article

Yulin Lee

[Ming Hong]

(b Tokyo, Nov 6, 1964).

Taiwanese conceptual artist, active also in the USA. Lin studied at the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles in 1990 and then the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena in 1993. Although Lin was born in Japan, he spent his early childhood in Taiwan and then moved to the USA. These transcultural experiences complicated the task of positioning himself as an artist after his return in 1993 to Taiwan, where contemporary art largely focused on locating a definitive identity.

Lin’s interest in creating art expressive of his fluid experience was already present in his first solo exhibition, Meander (1994). Lin hung monochromatic, acrylic-lacquered steel plates perpendicular to a white wall. While these highly finished works reflected an aesthetic close to that of Donald Judd’s industrially manufactured cubes, they also indicated Lin’s own West Coast background—the fetishism of the enamelled surface being rooted in southern California’s automobile culture....

Article

(b Yokohama, Japan, Oct 31, 1887; d Waterford, CT, Oct 11, 1966).

(). American writer. He taught English at Columbia University, New York, from 1919 to 1958, and became professor there in 1947. He devoted a lifetime’s research to tracing the origins of the legends of King Arthur, and to proving that they had their roots in Celtic mythology and were passed to the Continent by Breton and other story-tellers. Loomis also pursued an interest in art and art history; many of his early publications dealt with aspects of medieval Arthurian iconography, and it was this art-historical research that led him to postulate the Celtic origins of the legends. He continued, where relevant, to use his knowledge of medieval art to support his arguments. His Arthurian Legends in Medieval Art (1938), written in collaboration with his wife, was a comprehensive survey of Arthurian iconography up to 1500, the result of nearly 30 years’ research. His continuing interest in art history is evident in ...

Article

(b Los Angeles, CA, Sept 2, 1931; d New York, Feb 10, 2012).

American graphic designer. As an American of Japanese descent, Miho was sent to an internment camp in Arizona during World War II, a difficult experience that she chose not to dwell on, but which helped her find other focuses and goals. In high school she received a scholarship for a summer programme at the Minneapolis School of Art (now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design) and was influenced by Modernism during her first visit to New York City, taking in the architecture and artwork of places such as Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art. After high school she took a part-time job at the Bureau of Engraving in Minneapolis and continued to take classes at the Minneapolis School of Art. She then received a full scholarship to study at the Art Center School in Los Angeles (now the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena), CA. She focused on graphic design and eventually switched to industrial design so she could study packaging design with Mary Sheridan, sometimes assisting in her design office. She graduated with honours in ...

Article

Celia Stahr

(b Bugok, South Korea, April 29, 1953).

American photographer and installation artist of Korean birth. Min came to the USA when she was seven and went on to study art at the University of California, Berkeley, receiving her BA in 1975, her MA in 1977 and her MFA in 1979. She has described herself as a child of Cold War politics and a member of the 1.5 generation who are Korean-born Americans. She occupies a liminal space, something that is often explored in her art. In Make Me (1989; see Cahan and Kocur, p. 85), she placed various texts, such as ‘Model Minority’, over four different bisected photographs of her face. These cut photographs with text force the viewer to confront common stereotypical images of Asian Americans.

In much of Min’s art, personal issues are tied to international power struggles, deCOLONIZATION (1991; see Neumaier, pp. 134–7), for example is a mixed-media installation that examines the social and psychological impact of colonialism on Korean women. In the centre of the installation a traditional Korean dress, on which there are handwritten excerpts in Korean and English from Won Ko’s poem ...

Article

Joan Kee

(b Taichung, Feb 16, 1964).

Taiwanese conceptual artist, active also in the USA. Lee spent his childhood in Taichung, where he studied Chan Buddhism from the age of eight. At 12, Lee spent time among Taiwanese expatriates in the Dominican Republic, and two years later moved to the USA, where he later studied biology at the University of Washington, Seattle. He transferred, however, to the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, CA, where he focused on architecture and textiles (1993). During this time, Lee made work that originated from personal memories, such as One Hundred Days with Lily (1995), which he started after his grandmother’s death. This work was a long-term endeavour documenting the life cycle of a lily that Lee took with him as he went about his daily activities in San Francisco.

After graduating from Oakland, Lee went on to receive a master’s degree in sculpture from the Yale School of Art. At Yale, Lee expanded upon his interest in interpersonal communication, which resulted in the production of works such as ...

Article

Miwako Tezuka

(b Taegu, Korea, June 5, 1973).

Korean painter. When Moon moved to the USA in 1999 to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, she already had an MFA in painting from Ewha Womans University in Seoul, Korea. She eventually earned her second MFA from University of Iowa in 2002. In her ink and acrylic painting on paper, Moon combines references to popular culture with images and techniques reminiscent of her Asian cultural background such as calligraphy.

The essential characteristic of Moon’s work is its visual and material hybridity that owes much to her expertise in both Asian and Western painting traditions. Dynamic use of color, allover composition and depictions of quasi-organic motifs in Moon’s landscapes may suggest affinity to abstract painting by Helen Frankenthaler. Just as many Abstract Expressionists did, Moon’s composition envisions primordial landscape of a life-giving planet where chaos is destructive and creative at the same time. For example, Haven (...

Article

Gordon Campbell

(b Spokane, WA, 1905; d 1990).

American furniture designer and manufacturer. The son of Japanese parents, after an early career as an architect he turned in 1940 to furniture-making, initially in Seattle and then, after a period of internment, in New Hope, Pennsylvania, where in 1946 he estabished an independent workshop. The workshop produces both series and individual designs, always in solid hardwood with no veneers; designs reflect both American and Japanese traditions, but are contemporary rather than revivalist. Although Nakashima is sometimes described as one of the founding figures of the American craft movement, his workshop used machine tools and, in the case of his series designs, production methods to create furniture that looks hand-crafted. The workshop is still a family business, and is now run by his daughter Mira (b 1942).

The Soul of a Tree: A Woodworker’s Reflections (Tokyo and New York, 1981) D. Ostergard: George Nakashima: Full Circle (New York, 1989)...

Article

Joan H. Pachner

(b Los Angeles, CA, Nov 17, 1904; d New York, Dec 30, 1988).

American sculptor and designer. He was the son of an American writer mother and Japanese poet father and was brought up in Japan (1906–18) before being sent to the USA to attend high school in Indiana (1918–22). In 1922 he moved to Connecticut, where he was apprenticed to the sculptor Gutzon Borglum (1867–1941). Discouraged by Borglum, Noguchi moved to New York and enrolled to study medicine at Columbia University (1923–5). From 1924 he attended evening classes at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School; encouraged by the school’s director, he decided to become a sculptor. In addition he frequented avant-garde galleries, including Alfred Stieglitz’s An American Place and the New Art Circle of J. B. Neumann; he was particularly impressed by the Brancusi exhibition at the Brummer Gallery (1926).

In 1927 and 1928 he was awarded Guggenheim Fellowships to visit the Far East, but he went to Paris instead. For six months he worked as ...

Article

Miwako Tezuka

(b Okayama prefecture, Japan, Nov 18, 1885; d California, Oct 6, 1975).

Japanese-born American painter. Obata is known for his sumi ink paintings, watercolors and woodblock prints depicting California landscapes. After studying Nihonga (Japanese-style painting) at the Japan Fine Arts Academy in Tokyo, he moved to San Francisco in 1903 to pursue career in art, and soon began working as an illustrator for local publications for the Japanese American community. In 1921, when ethnic prejudice was still rampant, he co-founded the East West Art Society in San Francisco to foster multicultural communication through art. In 1928, he returned to Japan where he produced award-winning series of 35 woodblock prints of majestic landscapes of Yosemite, based on his extensive survey and sketches of the region in the previous year.

From 1932, Obata taught at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, but his career came to a halt with the outbreak of World War II, when he and his family were interned at Tanforan in San Bruno, CA, from ...

Article

Toru Asano

(b Yokohama, Sept 28, 1902; d Tokyo, July 25, 1982).

American painter of Japanese birth. In 1922 he entered the department of Western painting at Tokyo School of Fine Arts, but in 1924 he went to France where he studied with Tsugouharu Foujita and executed paintings of urban subjects. In 1927 he returned to Japan. From 1929 he displayed works at the exhibition of the Nikakai (Second Division Society), of which he became a member in 1937. He went to New York in 1950, settling and working there as a painter. In New York he produced abstract paintings. Undoubtedly stimulated by Abstract Expressionism, these nevertheless display a strong Japanese sensibility and feeling for form; the works Abstraction No. 7 (1953; Purchase, SUNY, Neuberger Mus.) and Memories (1957; New York, Whitney), for example, reveal subtle changes in the natural world through the use of imagery constructed with delicate, sensitive colour tonalities, floating within the compositional space. He also painted numerous works that used as a point of departure the reinterpretation of the decorative effects of traditional Japanese painting (...

Article

Alice Ming Wai Jim

[Tetsuaki ]

(b Los Angeles, CA, March 3, 1940).

Alice Ming Wai Jim

Japanese American photographer.

In 1942, two months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor during World War II, Tetsu Okuhara and his family were forced by the US government to evacuate their Westinter Coast home and relocate to a Japanese American internment camp south of Denver, CO. After the war, the family moved to Chicago, IL, where Okuhara grew up and studied at the University of Chicago (1959–62). Working as a freelance photographer, he moved to New York to attend the Cooper Union School of Art and Architecture (1969–71). The first major public appearance of Okuhara’s work was in the July 1971 issue of Life magazine, which featured what was to be his most famous image, a 360-degree photo collage portrait of his wife. Susan (1971) consists of 112 individual black-and-white photographs of her head taken from different angles and then assembled into a single composite image using a grid format. The full nude portrait of ...

Article

Kevin Concannon

(b Tokyo, Feb 18, 1933).

Japanese multimedia artist, composer, and musician, active also in the USA and the UK. Born into a prominent Japanese banking family, Ono spent her childhood living in both America and Japan following her father’s banking career. She became the first female student to enter the philosophy course at Gakushiun University in Tokyo in 1952. At the end of the year, the family moved to Scarsdale, NY, and Ono enrolled at Sarah Lawrence College. In 1955, she eloped with composer Toshi Ichiyanagi (b 1933), dropping out of her course and moving to Manhattan, where she became involved with avant-garde art and music communities. From December 1960 through to June 1961, she hosted a series of performances organized with La Monte Young at her downtown loft. A one-person exhibition at Fluxus founder George Maciunas’s AG Gallery and a major solo concert at Carnegie Recital Hall followed in 1961. An original participant in ...

Article

Mick Hartney

(b Seoul, July 20, 1932; d Miami, Jan 29, 2006).

South Korean video artist, performance artist, musician, sculptor, film maker, writer, and teacher, active in Germany and the USA (see fig.). From 1952 to 1956 he studied music and aesthetics at the University of Tokyo. In 1956 he moved to the Federal Republic of Germany: he studied music at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, and worked with the composer Karlheinz Stockhausen at Darmstadt, before joining Fluxus, with whom he made performance art, experimental music, and ‘anti-films’ (e.g. the imageless Zen for Film, 1962). His Neo-Dada performances in Cologne during this period included a celebrated encounter with John Cage, during which he formed a lasting friendship with the avant-garde composer by cutting off his tie. Inspired by Cage’s ‘prepared piano’, in which the timbre of each note was altered by inserting various objects between the strings, Paik’s experiments from 1959 with television sets, in which the broadcast image was modified by magnets, culminated in his seminal exhibition ...

Article

Richard Guy Wilson

(b Guangzhou, April 26, 1917).

American architect of Chinese birth. Pei was born into a wealthy family. After travels with his father, he went to the USA in 1935 to study architecture. Initially repelled by the Beaux-Arts system, he became reconciled to its strong emphasis on geometry and readable imagery under Dean William Emerson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, from which he graduated in 1940. Pei stayed in Cambridge, working for different architects, and married Eileen Loo, a landscape architecture student at Harvard University, through whom he met Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer, who were teaching there. He continued his studies at Harvard and received a graduate degree in 1946, staying there to teach until 1948. In the same year William Zeckendorf of Webb & Knapp, Inc., one of the largest developers in the USA, hired Pei as director of architecture, thus drawing him into the world of real estate development. He remained there until ...

Article

Klaus Ottmann

[Lawrence]

(b Ogibuko, Japan, Oct 1, 1937).

American painter. He first attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston in 1955 but entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts two years later to study painting. He left the school after six months and in 1958 moved to New York. There he became influenced by the hard-edge geometric compositions of American abstract painters such as Stuart Davis and Fritz Glarner and by the late works of Piet Mondrian. At the same time Poons met Barnett Newman, who became a source of inspiration and support. Having been advised to simplify his work by curator and writer Henry Geldzahler (b 1935), who introduced him to the proto-Minimalist abstractions of Frank Stella, Poons began to draw points on graph paper that he would then connect with lines, soon focusing on the points themselves by applying small or large dots of oil paint on backgrounds of vivid acrylic paint. These dot paintings possessed the vibrating optical intensity typical of ...