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Art of the Korean Renaissance 1400-1600 한국 르네상스시대의 예술

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Blue/e—art—museum

2009. 4. 5.

 

 

 

 

Treasures at a Korean Crossroad

 

"Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400-1600,"

at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features a 15th-century epitaph tablet.

 

 

 

 

An epitaph tablet made of buncheong, from 1448.

The tablet belongs to a group of ceramic burial objects.

Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea  

 

 

 

 

 

Published: March 19, 2009

 

The Korean art gallery at the Metropolitan Museum is a trim, tall, well-proportioned box of light. But it’s just one room, and a smallish one at that, reflecting the museum’s modest holdings in art from this region and the still scant attention paid to it by Western scholars.

 

So no surprise that the expansive-sounding exhibition called “Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400-1600” is, by Met standards, a small thing too, with four dozen objects. Most of them — ceramic jars, lacquer boxes, scroll paintings — are compact enough to be stashed in a closet.

 

What the show lacks in grandeur, though, it makes up in fineness, and in rarity. All of the art dates from a period of cultural efflorescence and innovation in Korea. Experimental art was on the boil; utopian ideas were in the air. Yet much of what was produced then was lost in the series of invasions and occupations that began at the end of the 16th century.

 

In short, while the number of objects gathered here, more than half on loan from Korean museums, isn’t large, it’s a lot of what survives. And anyway, it makes for a comfortable display, ideal if you’re in the mood for some close looking rather than a drive-through blockbuster sweep.

 

Change was the essence of the Choson dynasty, which was founded in 1392, around the time the Renaissance began in Europe, and lasted for more than five centuries. Choson means “fresh dawn,” and the dynasty perceived itself as a broom sweeping the country clean of tired old ways, which in its early phase it did.

 

The end of the 14th century was a heady time in East Asia. In 1368 China finally rid itself of Mongol occupiers and established the Ming dynasty. In the process it revived neglected art traditions and asserted neo-Confucian thinking, with its concepts of philosopher-kings, government by scholar-officials and a code of ethics based on loyalty to state, community and family.

 

 

 

 

세종의 후손 이암의 ‘매’ (보스턴뮤지엄 소장)

 A hanging scroll depicting a falcon by Yi Am

from the first half of the 16th century.

 

 

 

 

Three decades later a similar shift happened in Korea. An old governing aristocracy was pushed aside to make way for a state-trained bureaucratic elite known collectively as yangban. Institutional Buddhism, a political and spiritual force for the better part of a millennium, was officially suppressed in favor of Confucian secularism. As in China, traditional art forms were revived and revamped to convey new meaning.

 

But history is rarely cut and dried. As often as not, it’s a story of coexistence, not replacement; of retreat, not defeat. So it was in Korea. Buddhism didn’t go away. Like a pilot light on a stove, it may have been hard to see, but it kept burning, its flame sustained primarily by the ruling elite that had banned it.

 

And it is Buddhist art of the early Choson that gives the exhibition its flashes of color and spectacle. A large hanging scroll painting of the Healing Buddha, his skin gold, his robes purple, his throne wreathed by a tangle of celestial bodyguards, is especially magnetic. It looks both old and new.

 

Prototypes for it go back centuries in China and Korea, but details of the Buddha’s persimmon-shaped face — the tiny slit eyes, the beanlike mouth — blend Choson and Ming styles, making the painting very much of its 16th-century time. It was of its time too in being both illegal and a royal commission, paid for by an avidly Buddhist dowager queen whose son was a neo-Confucian king.

 

It was China, rather than Buddhism per se, that provided Korean artists with an aesthetic template. Sometimes cultural differences are all but impossible to discern. A magnificent picture of a falcon, long attributed to the 14th-century Chinese animal painter Xu Ze, has recently been reattributed to the 16th-century Korean painter Yi Am, partly on the basis of a seal stamped on the picture’s surface.

 

In a set of Korean hanging scrolls titled “Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers,” the seasonal theme, the ink medium, even the landscapes are all classically Chinese. But the painter’s elevated perspective, as if seeing the world from a balcony in the clouds, is not.

 

 

 

 

 

 A 15th-century inlaid porcelain bowl.

 

 

 

 

Drawn as it was to China, the early Choson dynasty was also intent on defining and promoting Korean-ness. In 1443, in the reign of King Sejong, a committee of court scholars invented and made public, for the first time, a Korean phonetic alphabet and script called Hangul, ending the country’s long dependence on Chinese as a written language.

 

From that point, fulfilling a neo-Confucian ideal of universal education, reading and writing became common. An industry of books in Hangul flourished. In a beautiful painting of a Buddhist narrative in the show, lines of white-painted Hangul script trickle down like curtains of soft rain.

 

The tale depicted seems to be one invented in Korea, and certain forms of art are specifically Korean in content or style too. one type of painting — there are three examples in the show — is the equivalent of a class-reunion photograph of government bureaucrats who had taken their rigorous civil-service exams in the same year.

 

In each picture the men, often elderly, attending the reunion are portrayed enjoying one another’s company in breezy pavilions, with their names, biographical updates and occasional sentiments (I’m still working hard, I miss so-and-so, old age is hell) written below in Chinese. Many identical paintings were made so that each scholar could carry home a souvenir.

 

The most distinctively Korean art forms were developed in ceramics, specifically in the stoneware now called buncheong. At the start of the Choson era buncheong was the luxury ware favored by an elite clientele. Its novel refinements are evident in the show in a set of funerary dishes, replete with an inscribed memorial tablet, covered with feathery white crosshatch patterns stamped on a gray-brown background. on loan from the Samsung Museum of Art in Seoul, South Korea, the set is, for obvious reasons, registered as a national treasure.

 

 

 

 

 

An Amitabha triad from the 15th century.

 

 

 

 

After a few decades court-controlled kilns began to turn out a rival product, an exquisite white porcelain that quickly became, in aristocratic circles, the thing to have. Buncheong, its prestige diminished, passed into the general market.

 

Maybe because of its release from the restraints of class decorum, this stoneware became the fantastically zany art that it is. Based on squat everyday items like water flasks and baskets, buncheong forms tend to look squashed and bashed, their glazes slathered and spattered on, their surfaces dug-into and scarred with abstract scribbles like those in a Cy Twombly painting.

 

Buncheong was a hit, but by the end of the 16th century it had more or less ceased production. A lot of art started to disappear. In 1592 a Japanese army attacked Korea and stayed to loot and pillage; Buncheong potters were shipped back to Japan to make tea-ceremony wares. Some 30 years later the Manchus invaded Korea for the first time on their way to conquering the Ming dynasty in China and setting up one of their own, the Qing.

 

For practical reasons the Choson court declared fealty to the Qing. At the same time Korean artists and scholars pondered, more intently than before, the lineaments of Korean culture — what it was, had been, could be — and turned their hands to advancing a national art.

 

The story of the later Choson exceeds the compass of the show but will likely be tackled later. The Met plans to mount a series of exhibitions over the next 10 to 15 years on the history of Korean art. Each show will be about the size of this one and accompanied by a catalog, the first of which — solid, slender and edited by the present show’s organizer, Soyoung Lee, an assistant curator in the department of Asian art — has appeared.

 

Exhibitions of this scale could become a new norm for the Met in the years ahead. If so, great. When they are well done, small shows deliver everything a memorable art experience needs: beauty, history, unfamiliarity, deep research and fresh ideas. And they do something bigger shows cannot: turn major cultural encounters into intimate conversations.

 

 

 

 

 

16세기 후반 족자 ‘12신장과 약사여래삼존도’ (보스턴뮤지엄 소장)

 A large hanging scroll painting of the Healing Buddha is especially magnetic.

The details of the Buddha’s face — the tiny slit eyes, the beanlike mouth

— blend Choson and Ming styles, making the painting very much of its 16th-century time.

 

 

 

 

 

'Art of the Korean Renaissance,

1400-1600' at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

15세기 8폭 병풍 산수화 ‘소상팔경도(瀟湘八景圖)’ 두점이 주목을 끈다.

진주국립박물관이 소장한 16세기 작자 미상의 ‘소상팔경도’와

일본 큐슈국립박물관이 소장한 김현성(1542∼1621)의 소상팔경도가 선보인다.

원래 소상팔경도는 중국 후난성 동정호 남쪽의 소수(瀟水)와 상강(湘江)이

만나는 곳에서 펼쳐지는 여덟가지 빼어난 절경을 소재로 한 그림.

한인화가의 소상팔경도는 기백있는 중국풍의 전통에서 벗어나

원만한 선에 온화한 느낌으로 한국화한 점이 독특하다.

In a set of Korean hanging scrolls titled “Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers,”

the seasonal theme, the ink medium, the very landscapes are all classically Chinese.

But the painter’s elevated perspective, as if seeing the world from a balcony in the clouds, is not.

 

 

 

 

  

By Allan M. Jalon
April 4, 2009
Reporting from New York -- In 1443, a Korean ruler named King Sejong reinvented language as a more democratic medium. He issued a royal edict establishing a new alphabet to help Korean commoners read and write more easily, while conveying what was especially Korean in a society deeply influenced by China.

"The sounds of our language differ from those of Chinese," Sejong wrote of the new linguistic system his experts created, called hangeul. He hoped "the people will learn [the 28 letters] easily and use them conveniently in their daily life."

A new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, called "Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400-1600," has multi-paneled scrolls, sculptural yet practical ceramics and dreamlike ink drawings. The idealism of Sejong's alphabet frames it all.

 

Soyoung Lee, an assistant curator who organized the show, spoke of the "very fundamental" role that textural artifacts on exhibit -- picture books and scrolls with lettering on them in Chinese and hangeul -- played for a cultural nobility striving for a more civil society against the darker currents of war and occupation that shaped Korean history.

The show, the museum's first exhibition of internationally gathered Korean work in decades, opens a season of learning about Korea for museum-goers on both coasts. on June 28, a week after the Met show closes, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art will open an exhibition of work by 12 contemporary Korean artists. And before that closes, LACMA plans to open its reinstalled Korean galleries in a location far more prominent than before: directly across the plaza from Wilshire Boulevard.
 

 

 

 

 

 A flask-shaped bottle made of Buncheong from the early 16th century.

 

The most distinctively Korean art forms were developed in ceramics,

specifically in the stoneware now called buncheong.

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, the Met's show represents what Thomas P. Campbell, the museum's new director, calls "a significant new phase in the museum's Korean art program," the first of several exhibits exploring periods of Korean art.

The current show posed a special challenge, organizers say, because relatively little work remains of the so- called early Joseon Dynasty period, known for its cultural awakening and a military consolidation of the Korean peninsula.

Then came invasion, followed by a later Joseon rule, which stretched until 1910, and invasion again. The 21st century retains its own legacy of division. The backward look to a period of relative peace gives this show a context both melancholy and hopeful.

It is a restorative gathering of Korea's far-flung cultural inheritance. What Lee found had to be brought from Japan and elsewhere.

This compact exhibit -- in a single divided room that normally displays the Met's Korean permanent collection -- is the hub of a wide wheel: 45 works drawn from 17 international lenders.

A falcon newly reattributed to Yi Am, the great-great-grandson of King Sejong, is a vivid example of Korean rediscovery. The bird, seen from the back, shows one side of its face, one eye noticing something beyond the scroll's edge. It's a regal hunter concentrating itself in a flash of intelligence. Lee, the curator, explains that the falcon (from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston) was long thought to be the work of a 14th century Chinese painter named Xu Ze. Then seals on the work -- the equivalent of an artist's signature -- were found to belong to Yi Am.
 

 

 

 

 15세기 조선 상감백자

A 15th-century inlaid porcelain bottle.

 

At the start of the Choson era, buncheong was the luxury ware favored by an elite clientele.

After a few decades, however, an exquisite white porcelain became the thing to have in aristocratic circles.

Buncheong, its prestige diminished, passed into the general market.

 

 

 

 

The show makes a fresh Korean contribution to a global dialogue with the first-time exhibit here of a full Korean version -- across the traditional eight scrolls -- of the classic Chinese motif of the place where the Xiao and Xiang rivers meet. one can visit the Met's standing Chinese and Japanese exhibits to see how their sets on the Xiao-Xiang landscape compare; the Korean is more intimate.

Viewers familiar with modern American ceramic art -- including the pottery explosion of the 1950s and '60s that has roots in Southern California -- will find parts of this show are like going home. one piece was brushed with slip and etched while wet with a stick or hard brush, with such abstract and free utterance that it could have been done five minutes ago in a studio near Lincoln Boulevard.

Throughout the show, there's a balance between competing sensations: call them cool and warm, formal and exuberant. Behind them is a philosophical approach that, even to many Americans who relate to other versions of the Asian past, is unfamiliar.

Part of the reason is the American connection to Buddhism. Many Americans are drawn to Buddhism, while Confucianism gets little notice.

The early Joseon state was Neo-Confucianist, referring not to contemporary newness but to Korean interpretations of original Confucian teachings dating back hundreds of years in China. The Met's exhibit also shows how Neo-Confucianism and Buddhism overlapped in Joseon Korea.

One text in the show is the "Illustrated Guide to the Three Bonds," meaning the three bonds emphasized by Confucians and Neo-Confucians: the bonds between ruler and minister, father and son, husband and wife. Yet reading the bonds could yield the stereotypical image of Confucian influences as authoritarian.

That would be simplistic. 
 

 

 

 

A flask-shaped bottle made of Buncheong stoneware from the early 16th century.

Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka

 

Maybe because of its release from the restraints of class decorum,

this stoneware became the fantastically zany art that it is,

with their glazes slathered and spattered on and their surfaces dug-into

and scarred with abstract scribbles like those in a Cy Twombly painting.

 

 

 

 

Neo-Confucianism is increasingly understood as a sensitive philosophical outlook about how one conducts oneself in daily life. Confucianism was dominated by an elite of sages. Neo-Confucianism is egalitarian in that every individual has the right or responsibility to get an education, to become sage-like.

Key pieces in the show are the group portraits of administrators quietly celebrating having passed civil service and military examinations. These may give the clearest picture of how Neo-Confucian values embodied in Sejong's alphabet trickled into the society.

The writing on these images is mostly in Chinese; hangeul was absorbed only slowly. But Rachel E. Chung, a scholar of the early Joseon period at Columbia University who toured the Met's show, paused in front of a scroll from 1580 titled "Banquet for Successful Candidates of the State Examination."

"The idea that society was essentially a meritocracy did trickle down to the society at large," Chung said. "Does this mean that every farmer put down his plow and engaged in education? Probably not. Did it erase poverty and the class system? No. But there was a new awareness of a better direction society was taking and people wanted to participate."

 

 

 

 

A bronze incense burner from 1397.

 

Exhibitions on this scale could become a new norm for the Met.

When small shows are well done, they deliver beauty, history and fresh ideas,

and they do something bigger shows cannot:

turn major cultural encounters into intimate conversations.

 

 

 

 

한국 르네상스시대의 예술
Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400 - 1600

 

 

조선왕조 초기 시대의 미술은 귀족풍의 고려시대와 달리 통속적인 경향이 두드러진다. 이 시기를 두고 흔히 한국미술사의 르네상스로 일컫는 것도 바로 이러한 이유에서다. 미술의 중심에 사람이 있다는 뜻이다.

조선 초기 미술의 이러한 정취는 특히 회화와 도자 공예 및 목칠공예에서 어렵지 않게 찾아볼 수 있다.

메트로폴리탄 뮤지엄(The Metropolitan Museum of Art)은 오는 3월17일부터 6월21일까지 조선초기의 미술을 집대성한 야심찬 기획전을 마련한다.

한국 르네상스시대의 예술(Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400 - 1600).

타이틀이 시사하듯 한국미술사의 르네상스로 대변되는 조선왕조 초기에서 중기에 들어서는 무렵의 작품들로 구성되는 귀한 이벤트다.

한국의 국립중앙박물관과 삼성미술관을 비롯해 일본의 규슈국립박물관, 오사카 동양 도자기 박물관, 독일 쾰른의 동양미술관, 미국의 보스턴 미술관, 클리블랜드 미술관, 플로렌스·허버트 어빙 콜렉션, 메리·잭슨 버크 재단으로부터 전시물 지원을 받아 메트로폴리탄 뮤지엄이 임대차원으로 마련한다. 여기에 한국국제교류재단과 삼성문화재단이 후원한다. 전시전 기획은 메트로폴리탄 뮤지엄 아시안 미술부의 이소영 부 큐레이터가 맡았다.

이 전시전에서는 회화에서 도예, 금속공예 및 목칠공예에 이르는 당대의 국보급 작품 47점이 선보이는데 이 당시 조선시대의 사회모습을 엿볼 수 있는 작품들도 대거 전시된다.

불교를 탄압했던 조선초기의 국시와는 달리 여전히 대중적인 종교로서 건재했던 당시 불교의 한단면도 찾아볼 수 있다. 이암의 ‘어미 개와 강아지’도 소개된다. 그는 바둑이를 소재로 우리의 정취를 물씬 풍기는 화풍을 보였던 왕손출신의 조선초기 대표적 화가다.

한편 메트로폴리탄 미술관측은 이번 기획전과 관련해 오는 5월17일 오후 1시 이소영 부큐레이터 진행의 관련 설명회를 아울러 마련한다.

미술관측은 또 이번 조선미술전을 시작으로 향후 10~15년에 걸쳐 한국미술사를 시대별로 재조명하는 기획전을 추진해나간다는 계획이다.

미술관 개장시간은 금·토 오전 9시30분부터 오후 9시까지, 일요일과 화~목요일은 오전 9시30분부터 오후 5시30분까지. 메모리얼데이인 5월25일을 제외한 월요일에는 문을 닫는다.

입장료는 일반이 20달러, 65세 이상이 15달러, 학생이 10달러. 12세 미만이 무료. 티켓 한 장으로 상설 전시관 및 특별기획전 모두 관람이 가능하다.
조선미술 기획전의 전시장은 메트로폴리탄 뮤지엄 2층에 자리잡고 있는 상설 한국전시관(The Arts of Korea Gallery)이다.

메트로폴리탄 뮤지엄은 뉴욕 맨해튼 한복판인 센트럴파크 인근에 자리잡은 미국 최대규모의 미술관이다.

티켓문의: (212) 535-7710; www.metmuseum.org
미술관 주소: 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028

 

 

 

 

 

이암의 '어미 개와 강아지' (국립중앙박물관) 

'Mother Dog and Puppies' by Yi Am

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 http://www.metmuseum.org

http://www.nowart.kr/mwb/bbs/board.php?bo_table=ex_world&wr_id=12

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/20/arts/design/20metr.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/la-et-koreanart4-2009apr04,0,7481625.story