Yun Hyong-keun

South Korean, 1928–2007

Blue chip status
Blue-chip representation
Represented by internationally reputable galleries.

Notable works

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Career highlights
Solo show at a major institution
National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art - Korea
Reviewed by a major art publication
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Yun Hyong-keun was born in Cheongju, Korea. In 1947, he enrolled at Seoul National University to study Western painting, but his academic path was interrupted by the outbreak of the Korean War (1950–53) and several frightening experiences of political persecution. After graduating from Hongik University, Seoul in 1957, he engaged in a dialogue with artists who would later become the exponents of a movement termed Dansaekwha, or “monochrome painting.” Like Yun, these artists were born during Japan’s colonial rule of Korea and translated the distressing experience of this unstable period in quiet but powerful abstract compositions rendered in a limited palette of white and earth colors. At that time, the guidance of his mentor and father-in-law, eminent Korean painter Kim Whanki (1913–1974), was influential in determining his use of highly diluted pigments to achieve greater variations of light and dark. As early as 1973, Yun started developing two oil pigments that were to become his most characteristic hues, Burnt Umber to represent the earth, and Ultramarine for the water. These symbolic colors recur throughout his oeuvre in unfettered and highly evocative vertical brushstrokes, heavily diluted and layered to create an intense sense of depth and compositional expansiveness. In 1974, Yun visited New York where he encountered Abstract Expressionist painting and was especially impressed by the work of Mark Rothko. Reflecting on the openness of Yun’s subsequent works, Joan Kee states that "where Rothko stacked rectangular blocks along a vertical axis, even as they expanded laterally toward the left and right edges of the canvas, Yun divided pictorial space into sections that pulled the painting apart.” Maintaining a studio in Seoul, Yun continued to work and exhibit internationally until his death in 2007.

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