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Two regional museums receive works from Lee Kun-hee’s collection

“Han il (Leisure time)” by Park Soo-keun (Park Soo Keun Museum)
“Han il (Leisure time)” by Park Soo-keun (Park Soo Keun Museum)
Among the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s art collection are paintings by Korean modern art masters Park Soo-keun and Lee Jung-seop. Some of those works have been donated to two regional museums dedicated to the respective artists.

Eighteen works of art by Park Soo-keun (1914-1965) were donated to the Park Soo Keun Museum in Gangwon Province, while 12 by Lee Jung-seop (1916-1956) were donated to the Lee Jung Seop Art Museum.

“Some valuable works among Lee’s collection came to the museum. We received four oil paintings and 14 drawings by the artist,” Eum Sun-mi, director of the Park Soo Keun Museum, told The Korea Herald.

As Park’s works are valued at more than 1 billion won ($900,000) on average, the museum had struggled to purchase or secure works by the artist, whose primary subjects were his family. The museum, located in the artist’s hometown of Yanggu, Gangwon Province, had some 10 oil paintings by Park before the donation. Some 500 works by the artist remain today.

Park’s works are famous for his unique matiere technique, which imparts physical texture to a painting, making it look as if it were drawn on granite. The artist developed the technique throughout his life.

The donated works include Park’s “Han il (Leisure time),” which was returned to South Korea in 2003 through purchase at a Christie’s auction. The museum declined to comment on whether Lee purchased the piece at the auction.

The museum will set up a special section for the donated works at an archive-based exhibition set for May 6-Oct. 17.

The Lee Jung Seop Art Museum on Jeju Island now owns 59 works by the artist, having received 12 from Lee’s collection. Six oil paintings, a water painting, three postcard paintings and two “eunjihwa” drawings done on the silver foil of cigarette packs were donated to the museum.

“The budget was too small to purchase the artist’s works as the museum is run on local government funding. It is known that the artist left some 680 works, which mostly remain in Korea,” an official from Lee Jung Seop Art Museum told The Korea Herald. The museum did not have any say in which pieces it would get, the official added.

The Lee Jung Seop Art Museum will exhibit the new additions to its collection in early September, marking the anniversary of the artist’s death on Sept. 6, 1956.

By Park Yuna  (yunapark@heraldcorp.com
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