Few artists, if any, have influenced video and media art to the same extent as Nam June Paik. Alongside Les Levine, the Korean-born artist could even claim to be a founder of these art forms. As early as 1969, Paik presented a performance by cellist Charlotte Moorman, who was wearing a bra consisting of two small television receivers enclosed in Plexiglas. “TV Bra for Living Sculpture” was one of his very first video works. Fascinated by the possibilities of the new medium of video, Paik turned televisions into sculptural artworks. “Television has been terrorising us for years, now we are fighting back,” he is often quoted as saying.
Paik fled his homeland in 1950 during the Korean War, then studied in Tokyo, Munich and Freiburg before finally – following his formative engagement with the Fluxus movement – accepting a position as a Professor at the Düsseldorf Art Academy. His work with John Cage played a decisive role in his artistic development. In 1959, just one year after meeting the American artist and composer in Darmstadt, Paik produced an “Homage to John Cage”. He was to become world famous for his remarkable installation of 384 monitors in the Centres Georg Pompidou in Paris, which he followed with exhibitions in New York’s Guggenheim, Frankfurt’s Schirn Kunsthalle, and at documenta 8 in Kassel. Paik passed away in 2006, but his influence on media art perseveres; his playful and highly ironic approach remains unparalleled.
This untitled work is a single sheet from the international art portfolio “Columbus – in search of a new tomorrow”, which was created for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Paik worked alongside artists such as Roy Lichtenstein, Christo, and Sigmar Polke for this extraordinary collection. Conceived by Michael Domberger and Dr Florian Langenscheidt, 37 artists took part in the project to protest against the destruction of nature in South America.
In the work, Paik repeats the Chinese character for “dream” to create a pattern that appears to be in continual motion. The writing seems to be rotating quickly, almost dancing. The screen print represents a coming together of the different media Paik worked with: ideas from music, dance, and video combine with a dynamic, ornamental quality. One could be forgiven for mistaking it for a screenshot from one of his video installations.
In May 1999, while Paik was still alive, the art magazine ARTnews named him as one of the 25 most influential artists of the 20th century alongside Picasso, Duchamp, and Rauschenberg.
|1932||Born in Seoul, Korea|
|1952-1956||Studied Western Aesthetics, Music History, and Art History at the Universtiy of Tokyo|
|1956-1958||Studied Music History at the University of Munich and Composition under Wolfgang Fortner at the Freiburger Musikhochschule|
|1960s||Member of the Neo-Dadaist group, Fluxus|
|1958-1963||Worked with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the WDR (West German Broadcasting) studio for electronic music in Cologne|
|1969||Developed the Video-Synthesizer with Shuya Abe|
|1979-1996||Professor at Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf|
|2006||died in Miami Beach, USA|
|1981||Will Grohmann Prize|
|1989||Kurt Schwitters Prize, Hanover|
|1992||Picasso Medal from UNESCO|
|1993||Golden Lion for the best national pavillion at the Venice Biennale|
|2001||Wilhelm Lehmbruck Prize, awarded by the City of Duisburg|
|2011||Ich sehe, also weiss ich (nicht), Kunstmuseum Bern, Switzerland|
|2010||Das im Entschwinden Erfasste. Videokunst im Museum Folkwang Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany|
|Changing Channels, MUMOK Vienna, Vienna, Austria|
|MOCA’s First Thirty Years Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, USA|
|DIE KUNST IST SUPER!, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Berlin|
|2009||RECORD > AGAIN!–40jahrevideokunst.de – Teil, 2. ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany|
|Nam June Paik: Music for all Senses, MUMOK Vienna, Vienna, Austria|
|The Third Mind: American Artists Contemplate Asia, 1860-1989, Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA|
|Made in Munich, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany|
|The Art of Participation: 1950 to Now, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA|
|2008||DANS LA NUIT, DES IMAGES, Grand Palais, Paris, France|
|Notation: Kalkül und Form in den Künsten, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany|
|Vom Funken zum Pixel, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany|
|2007||Art in America, Now, MOCA Shanghai, China|
|Centre Pompidou Video Art, Centre Pompidou, Paris, France|
|2006||Berlin-Tokyo / Tokyo-Berlin Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany|
|SUMMER OF LOVE, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, Germany|
|2005||ÜBER SCHÖNHEIT, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, Germany|
|Flick Collection, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany|
|2004||Nam June Paik – Global Groove 2004, Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin, Germany|
|2002||Räume des XX. Jahrhunderts, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, Germany|
|Televisions – Kunst sieht fern, Kunsthalle Vienna, Vienna, Austria|
|2001||Paul Kos / Nam June Paik, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, USA|
|2000||Aller Anfang ist MERZ, Sprengel Museum, Hanover, Germany|
|The Worlds of Nam June Paik, Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA|
|1999||VIDEO CLUB 99, Kunsthalle Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany|
|1997||Die Epoche der Moderne - Kunst im 20. Jahrhundert, Martin Gropius Bau, Berlin, Germany|
|1996||sonambiente, Akademie der Künste, Berlin, Germany|
|1995||4. Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey|
|1993||45. Biennale Venedig, Venice, Italy|
|1990||44. Biennale Venedig, Venice, Italy|
|1987||19. Biennale São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil|
|8. documenta, Kassel, Germany|
|1982||Erste Retrospektive im Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, USA|
|1977||6. documenta, Kassel, Germany|
|1971||happening & fluxus Kölnischer Kunstverein|
|1963||Exposition of music – electronic television, Galerie Parnass, Wuppertal, Germany|
Privat, Wuppertaler Sammler der Gegenwart im Von der Heydt-Museum. Gerhard Finckh (pub.), Von der Heydt-Museum, Wuppertal 2009.
Nam June Paik, Electric warrior. Willi Blöß, Aachen 2006.
Nam June Paik, There is no rewind button for life. Hommage für Nam June Paik. Wulf Herzogenrath & Andreas Kreul (pub.), Cologne 2007.
Nam June Paik – Fluxus / Video, Wulf Herzogenrath & Sabine Maria Schmidt, Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen 1999.
Nam June Paik, Eine Data Base, Klaus Bussmann & Florian Matzner, Ostfildern 1993.
Nam June Paik, Niederschriften eines Kulturnomaden. Aphorismen, Briefe, Texte, Edith Decker, Cologne 1992.
Nam June Paik, Video Time – Video Space, Toni Stooss & Thomas Kellein, Ostfildern 1991.
Nam June Paik, Art for 25 Million People. Bon jour Monsieur Orwell. Kunst und Satelliten in der Zukunft, Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD, Berlin 1984.
Nam June Paik, Werke 1946–1976. Musik, Fluxus, Video. Wulf Herzogenrath (pub.), Cologne 1980.
Nam June Paik, Werke 1946-1976, Musik, Fluxus, Video. Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne 1976.