Because hardware keeps changing, I keep changing. Art-making is for anybody, like breathing.
—Nam June Paik
Gagosian is pleased to announce participation in The Armory Show 2018 with works by Nam June Paik.
Considered the progenitor of video art in the twentieth century, Nam June Paik brought television into the realm of fine art, treating it as a tactile and multisensory medium. Trained as a classical pianist, his early interests in composition and performance brought him into contact with protagonists of the counter-culture and avant-garde movements of the 1960s. Such engagement profoundly shaped his outlook at a time when electronic images were becoming increasingly present in everyday life. Paik embraced new technologies as material parts of his repertoire, which later included satellite transmissions, robots, and lasers. His installations, performances, and writings contributed to the creation of a media-based culture that expanded the very definition and aesthetic possibilities of making art.
The centerpiece of the booth is Paik’s monumental assemblage Lion (2005), comprising a hand-painted guardian lion sculpture framed within a wooden arch and twenty-eight television screens of various sizes. The televisions display fast-paced montages of flowers, animals, and fish, as well as real-time footage of lions and Merce Cunningham dancing. Lion is emblematic of Paik’s “late style,” in which he often reflected upon artists and performers who influenced his oeuvre, from Cunningham to George Maciunas and John Cage. The imperial guardian lion, a pervasive symbol of justice, law, and spiritual protection in Asian communities, is here revisited within a Western art-historical context, revealing the breadth of visual traditions at play in Paik’s oeuvre.
Also on view are several drawings and individual television sculptures by Paik, including Knock Down (2005), an Admiral television set expressively painted in red and yellow, with layered line drawings illuminated by its screen. This was one of the last works Paik made in his lifetime—a testament to his multimedia innovations, which set the stage for video and internet art today.
Nam June Paik was born in 1932 in Seoul, South Korea, and died in 2006, in Miami, Florida. Recent institutional exhibitions include “Global Groove,” Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (2004); “Olympe de Gouges,” Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris à la Maison de la Radio France, Paris (2005); “Paik on Paper,” Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany (2006); “In Memoriam,” Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006); “Bye Bye, Nam June Paik,” The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2006); China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (2009); Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf (2010); Tate Liverpool, England (2010); “In the Tower: Nam June Paik,” The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2011); “Global Visionary,” Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (2012–13); “Becoming Robot,” Asia Society, New York (2014–15); and Tate Modern, London (2016). Representing Germany, Paik and Hans Haacke were awarded a Golden Lion at the 45th Biennale di Venezia (1993).