JUL 1 - SEP 5, 2021


   SEP 14 - NOV 7, 2021


   NOV 11 - DEC 26, 2021


   JUL 12 - NOV 27, 2022


   SEP 10 - DEC 17, 2023


   JAN 16 - MAR 10, 2024


   JUN 8 - JUL 20, 2024


Timmy Myeongsuk KIM

Director,  D'ART


- Yongin Cultural Foundation

- Yeosu-si

- Andong Culture & Art Center

- Hyundai Heavy Industries

- Goyang Cultural Foundation

- Gumi-si

- Chuncheon Cultural Foundation


Korea University Museum



CHUN Kyungja, CHUNG Sanghwa, CHANG Ucchin, KIM Tschangyeul, KIM Whanki, LEE Daewon, LEE Jungseob, PARK Rehyun, PARK Seobo, PARK Sookeun, RHEE Seundja, SUH Seok, TO Sangbong, etc

The word collection has become a hot topic in recent days. Behind this sudden firestorm of attention to collection is the passing of a certain entrepreneur whose modern art and cultural artifact collection was donated to several national and public galleries and museums by his family. Not long ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that the phrase “so-and-so’s collection” (named after a collector) would come into such wide usage. This may be a sign that Korea is now seeing the burgeoning of a Western practice in which businesspersons or philanthropists gather their collections into one group under their name or build entire galleries as donations.

Masterpieces of Korean Modern and Contemporary Art is organized around works from Korea University Museum, that is, the “Korea University Museum collection.” These works belong not to individuals but to the modern and contemporary art collection of an institution—and the country’s leading university museum, no less. The irony of a museum’s having modern and contemporary artworks in its collection stems from Korea University Museum’s peculiar history. The issue has already been addressed in the exhibition 200 Twentieth-Century Korean Artworks in the Year 2000, presented by the museum in 2000. The museum does not operate a separate art gallery space and acts simultaneously as both a history museum that collects, researches, and preserves artifacts and as an art museum that houses an extensive range of modern and contemporary artworks. The collection encompasses an incredible number of works.

It is thanks to the firm conviction and initiative of previous generations that the museum’s missions are to house both history and art and to continue conversations on historic periods. From the university’s emphasis on the humanities and social sciences, the university and museum staff at the time understood the importance of art from early on and recognized that cultural artifacts would, in the future, become important assets for studying and preserving historic eras. Accordingly, they made consistent efforts to collect works. The museum has since made in-depth studies of history and art through many special exhibitions and grown into a space sought after by many artists to present their works.

The Korea University Museum Collection: Characteristics and Significance

Organizing the exhibition started with selecting works for Masterpieces of Korean Modern and Contemporary Art from Korea University Museum’s massive collection. Generally, modern and contemporary art exhibitions share a certain similarity. Of course, some are organized differently depending on the topic of the exhibition, but they normally revolve around specific keywords drawn from subject matter, history, and themes. The pre-existing public perception of art exhibitions also makes organizing modern and contemporary art shows simultaneously difficult and easy. The works from the Korea University Museum collection have been shown in external venues several times, mostly for exhibitions centered on specific subject matter. The present exhibition seeks to define the significance of the “collection” itself beyond highlighting individual works. The process started with classifying and organizing the works in the collection along the Korean modern and contemporary art timeline.

In addition to the works that have been shown publicly, the number of works collected since the 2000s was much larger than initially thought. It was possible, however, to identify in the overall collection a distinguishing aspect. That is, the collection noticeably represented the new experiments and changes in “Korean art” in each historical period. Many newly established national and public galleries collect contemporary works by artists in global as well as Korean modern and contemporary art, but the Korea University Museum collection includes both Korean art of various genres and artworks building on Korean art from the late Joseon period to contemporary times in much larger numbers than other institutions. They constitute a visible testimony to the shifts in Korean art as well as in Western art. In other words, the collection is sufficient to demonstrate how Korean art was inherited, changed, and is now expanding in many directions within the context of the conventional history of modern and contemporary Korean art that has been told around Western art. The present exhibition seeks to navigate the complexity that accompanies such a unique feature of the museum and to present a new direction for an enriching exhibition.

Timmy Myeongsuk KIM

Director, D'ART