In 2006, Seoul`s galleries and museums were a boon to the city`s cultural scene, with an especially large number of exhibitions taking place.
Thanks to the celebration of the 120th anniversary of French-Korean diplomatic ties, last year saw even more gallery and exhibition openings than usual.
Critics say that it is Seoul`s growing apatite for art and culture is making it an attractive destination for major exhibitions.
"Van Gogh to Picasso: Masterworks from the Cleveland Museum of Art" at Hangaram Design Museum (through March 28, gogh.chosun.com) offers a great opportunity to chronicle modern western paintings and sculptures, especially those of impressionists.
With over 90 masterpieces from the Cleveland Museum of Art, one of the most important art museums in the United States, the exhibition takes viewers from the late 19th century into the 20th century.
<**1>Master paintings by luminaries such as Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degat are followed by those of post-impressionists Van Gogh, Gaugin and Cezanne, before the show moves into the next century, which saw the avant-garde movement of Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani. Rodin`s sculptures as well as modern works of Mondrian are also included.
Also, both "Rene Magritte - Empire of Dreams" at Seoul Museum of Art (through April 1, www.renemagritte.co.kr) and "Louvre Museum Exhibit: le paysage dans la peinture occidentale du XVIe au XIXe siecle" at the National Museum of Korea (through March 18, www.museum.go.kr) are exhibitions not to be missed.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987) is back on the rise, again, appearing on the famous windows of Barney`s New York for this Christmas. Two exhibits show the work of the eternal icon of pop art, "Andy Warhol Graphic Works" at the Museum of Art, Seoul National University (through Feb. 10, www.snumoa.org) and "Wake Up Andy Warhol" at Ssamziegi (through Jan. 25, www.ssamziegil.com). An even more extensive show is scheduled to be held at Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in March.
Another pop artist, Robert Rauschenberg, is having his first retrospective exhibit in Seoul at Gallery Hyundai (through Jan. 7, www.galleryhyundai.com).
As part of a touring show that started at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2005, over 23 works of the pop artist, who was one of the first to transcend genres of art, from Hoarforst (1974-1976) to Urban Bourbon series (1988-1995) and Anagram (1995-1997), are on display.
French artist Jean Dubuffet`s retrospective "L`hourloupe Garden" at National Museum of Art, Deoksugung (through Jan. 28, www.deoksugung.com) will be later replaced by a special exhibition dedicated to Huh Gun (1908-1987), presenting a rare opportunity to experience the dignified beauty of traditional Korean paintings. Also note that Leeum`s notable exhibition "Paintings of Late Joseon Dynasty" runs through Jan. 28 (www.leeum.org).
While last year`s dominant French theme played out across the city`s galleries, this year may witness a Chinese moment that will see added exposure due to the 15th anniversary of Chinese-Korean diplomatic ties. "Chinagate" at Arko Art Center (through Jan. 31, art.arko.or.kr) is just the beginning of a slew of exhibitions of Chinese artists. The exhibit sheds light on the diversity of Chinese art with younger and relatively lesser-known artists.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea, is hosting "Contemporary Art of China" in August and Arario Gallery is planning a series of shows to introduce Chinese artists such as ceramics artist Liu Jianhua and painter Yan Pei Ming. In February, MOCA will have its annual exhibition of a newly acquired collection, followed by an exhibit of German neo-expressionist Georg Baselitz in May.
Other major exhibitions to be held in the first half of this year include Hangaram Design Museum`s special exhibition of Musee d`Orsay in April, Gallery Ssamzie`s "Paik Nam-june and his Fluxus friends" scheduled for later this month and two shows on Italian master sculptor Marino Marini (1901-1980) at the National Museum of Art, Deoksugung and at Sun Gallery in February.
By Hwang You-mee