Friday, March 20, 2009

Korean Renaissance Art

Art Review "Art of the Korean Renaissance"
Holland Cotter (New York Times)

"Treasures at a Korean Crossroad"

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. More>>
PHOTOS: 1. An Amitabha triad from the 15th century. Change was the essence of Korea’s Choson dynasty, which was founded in 1392, and lasted for more than five centuries. It is the Buddhist art of the early Choson that gives the exhibition its flashes of color and spectacle. (Photo: The Cleveland Museum of Art). 2. Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea, "Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400-1600," at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features a 15th-century epitaph tablet.

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