‘Korea’s Picasso’ Kim dies at 95

By Lee Woo-young
  • Published : Jun 9, 2014 - 20:25
  • Updated : Jun 9, 2014 - 20:25

Artist Kim Heung-sou died of complications from old age on Monday, his family said. He was 95.

Dubbed the “Picasso of Korea,” the painter pioneered a painting style called “Harmonism,” which signifies a balance of the opposite elements of abstraction and figuration. 
Kim Heung-sou. (Yonhap)

Born in the North Korean province of South Hamgyeong, he studied painting at Tokyo University of the Arts, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1944. He briefly served as an art teacher at Seoul Art High School and Seoul National University upon Korea’s independence from Japanese colonial rule.

He set off for Paris in 1955, where he reached a turning point as an artist. Kim, whose paintings had been based on a figurative style, grew interested in modern styles such as fauvism and cubism while studying at the Academie de la Grande Chumiere.

His distinctive painting style made a great impact on the Korean art circle when he returned to Korea in 1961. His roughly textured nude paintings have since become his signature works.

He served as an art professor at Sungshin Women’s University in Seoul and at Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts from 1965 to 1980. He became a prestigious member of the National Academy of Arts in the 1990s.

He held exhibitions around the world, including in France and Russia, and his works have been featured at international auctions.

By Lee Woo-young (wylee@heraldcorp.com)