2021. 10. 19 - 2022. 3. 27
Modern Life, co-hosted by Daegu Art Museum and the Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght in France, and co-curated by Olivier Delavallade and Daegu Art Museum, is a collaborative project researched collections of both institutions under the theme of Modernism. In particular, Daegu Art Museum, which marks its 10th anniversary this year, has put forth its best efforts to present a cooperative model for international exchange exhibitions that will continue and develop in the future and meet the expectations as its role as a public art museum.
The Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, the co-host of this exhibition, is the first private art institution in France that actively seeks communication with artists. The Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght opened in southern France in the late 20th century at the suggestion of André Malraux, then French Minister of Culture, to Aimé Maeght and Marguerite Maeght, who were sponsoring numerous artists. The collaboration with the Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, which holds about 13,000 works of famous 20th-century artists and postwar artists, including Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Marc Chagall, Wassily Kandinsky, and Alberto Giacometti, is a beautiful harmony created beyond the geographical boundaries between Korea and France under one simple purpose, the art.
This exhibition, which introduces 144 masterpieces of seventy-eight artists among the collections of both institutions, contains the aesthetical modernity that artists of the time constantly pursued by relying purely on art. Now, the whole world has been suffering from an unexpected and unprecedented virus for a long time. The only way art museums, which communicate with the world solely through the artworks, can comfort the public is to lift the heavy air surrounding this society through the works of great artists who confronted turbulent times of each era yet sublimated even pain and suffering into art. Artworks continued to be born even when the natural sensibility of human beings dried up while living in a devastated society after both world wars. And those gem-like artworks that came to the world through such time can indeed convey a strong signal of hope only with their artistic power and resonance.
As the title of the exhibition Modern Life suggests, aspects of Modernity can be found from most exhibited artworks, transitional and transformational. Modernism art, which belongs to the category of Modernity, functioned to historically establish the course of art from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s in Europe before World War II. It extended the phenomena in the history of the time to the logic of the development of art as many researchers constantly presented its aesthetic grounds. The concept of modernity, which is also directly used in Korea as ‘Modernity’ without a translation, presupposes a certain consciousness that art of the time is ‘modern.’ Modernity, which was already widely used in England in the 17th century and appeared as a new coinage in academia by Charles BAUDELAIRE, a theorist of aesthetical Modernity in the mid-19th century, contains an original concept and has quite multiple characteristics. This exhibition aims to take a step closer to the expanded concept of Modern, which is this exhibition’s background idea, by classifying such multiplicity into eight subcategories while examining it in an overview.
The exhibition unfolds in a total of eight themes at Gallery 1 with seven categories and Umi Hall, which is connected to the archive section. The first section, with the theme of ‘De-figuration,’ introduces a total of fifteen works including, Alberto Giacometti, Jean Dubuffet, Julio González, CHOI Youngrim. This section shows the autonomy of art to escape from the figurative way through the modified structure and unique parcelled-facets in exploring the human being.
Subsequently, the second section, ‘Landscapes-memories,’ summons the scenery around us and individual memories that change over time and calmly evoke old memories through a total of sixteen works, including Pierre Tal-Coat, Anna-Eva Bergman, YOO Young Kuk, and KIM Tschang-yeul.
The third section is ‘Abstraction,’ an indispensable discourse in Modernism Art and one of the sought-after research topics of many researchers. The wave of abstraction spread throughout postwar Europe and the United States, even to Asia and the world. In particular, in this section, the artworks by Korean artists that elicit higher thoughts such as HAN Mook, LEE Ufan, JUNG Jeumsik, and LEE Kangso are shown; also, works from the Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, including Bram van Velde, Pablo Palazuelo, and Eduardo Chillida that are unfamiliar to the Korean audience yet emitting clear aura solely for their existence are included.
In the fourth section, carefully selected works under the theme of ‘Writings’ greet the audience. Around twelve pieces of artworks with various types of characters appeared on the paintings like Henri Michaux, Hans Hartung, etc. from the collection of the Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght are presented; around ten works with characters that clearly exist yet are not easily identified in the works by CHOI Byungso, PARK Seobo, LEE Bae, etc. are on display. The artworks convey their own reticent voices.
Thereafter, moving on to the fifth section, ‘Ultra modern solitude’ begins. This section, which includes an intermediate exit to the hallway from Gallery 1 as a coincidence in the layout of the space, creates a completely different atmosphere from the previous section. It provides time to catch a breath and focus on the ‘individual’ or ‘self’ amid a flood of post-war Modernism that showed changes in forms through the artworks.
After a spatial detour, the sixth section, ‘Re-generating painting,’ awaits the audience. Around twenty works show a sense of chromatic rhythm along with two-dimensional planarities, such as that of Simon Hantaï, Claude Viallat, Francois Rouan, etc. from the collection of the Fondation Marguerite et Aimé Maeght, are introduced with the works from the collection of Daegu Art Museum such as KIM Gui-line, YUN Hyong-keun, LEE Ufan, and Richard Serra. This section is a place to foresee the essence and the natural characteristics of paintings as well as the future of painting that can only be established anew by going through the course of death.
Lastly, in the seventh section ‘Re-enchanting the world,’ the last category in Gallery 1, twenty-seven artworks captivate the audience as this section has the largest displayed counts. A total of twenty paintings are exhibited, including LEE Ungno’s painting containing his reflections on human beings, SUH Seok’s works implying human existence in the process of deepening the symbolic semi-abstract world, and Marc Chagall’s painting, which are considered as a national treasure in France.
As following the way out through Umi Hall, the very last section of this exhibition, ‘Genesis,’ will unfold. The works of Alexander Calder, LEE Kunyong, LEE Ufan, Richard Long, etc. are installed; this space shows the continuous and cyclical relationship amongst the human, the nature, the world, and the universe.
Although this exhibition is a project that started with the underlying colossal discourse of Modernism as its basis, it is on a different line from analyzing it in art history or for demonstrating numerous previously published aesthetic theories.
The main point of this exhibition is to introduce works that reflect the present and hope for the future, which contain particular and unique characteristics of Modernism. The 144 works presented in this exhibition provide strength with flexibility and tranquil beauty that disclose their existence. We hope that the fleeting moment of viewing the exhibition will become a profound time for the viewer to experience the artistic aura.