Four Korean Monochromatic Paintings at Auction This February

Jonathan Feel
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This February, upcoming auctions will feature a large number of works by modern and contemporary Korean artists. The total amount and the number of entries at auction have increased significantly compared to similar sales last year. In addition, two works from the late Joseon Dynasty will be put up for auction along with an undisclosed handwriting piece written by independence activist An Jung-geun in prison. If sold successfully, it will be returned to Korea.

Yun Hyong-keun's Burnt Umber & Ultramarine. Image courtesy of K Auction.
Yun Hyong-keun’s Burnt Umber & Ultramarine. Image courtesy of K Auction.

On February 21, 2024, K Auction will hold an auction at its headquarters in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, featuring a total of 109 pieces and an estimated $6 million worth of artworks. The auction most prominently features the works of four monochromatic painters. This includes Yun Hyong-keun’s Burnt Umber & Ultramarine (estimate: USD 230,000 – $490,000), Park Seo-bo’s Écriture No. 980412 (estimate: $310,000 – $470,000), Chung Sang-hwa’s Untitled 79-3-20 (estimate: $170,000 – $750,000), and Ha Chong-hyun’s Conjunction 18-05 (estimate: $130,000 – $230,000).

A total of five works will be exhibited from Kim Tschang-yeul, including Waterdrops SA930-02 (estimate: $140,000 – $230,000), Recurrent SH97038 (estimate: $60,000 – $150,000), and Waterdrops CSH34 (estimate: $41,000 – $170,000). Four works by Lee Ufan will also be auctioned: With Winds S8708-28 (estimate: $120,000 – $230,000) and Untied (estimate: $49,000 – $90,000). Five works by Lee Bae, who will hold a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale in April, will also be on display. Lee Joongseop’s 1956 River of No Return (estimate: $110,000 – $230,000) and Lee Kun-yong’s Bodiescape 76-2-2021 (estimate: $210,000 – $300,000) also appear.

In the overseas sector, works by Caroline Walker, Izumi Kato, Kohei Nawa, Sharah Hughes, and Chiharu Shiota, which have been difficult to see at domestic auctions, will be featured. The auction preview can be viewed at the K Auction exhibition hall until February 21, the day of the auction.

Kim Jung-hee’s Poem, Orchids. Image courtesy of Seoul Auction.
Kim Jung-hee’s Poem, Orchids. Image courtesy of Seoul Auction.

On February 27, 2024, Seoul Auction will hold a sale at BOONTHESHOP Cheongdam, offering a total of 96 items with an estimated value of $8.24 million. The most notable artwork is An Jung-geun’s undisclosed handwriting piece (estimate: $450,500 to $901,000), which was created during the independence movement under Japanese imperialism. The handwriting was reportedly written by An before his execution. An left more than 200 handwriting records while he was sentenced to death after the assassination of Hirobumi Ito, a key figure in Japanese imperialism, and 31 handwriting records are registered as state-designated cultural property treasures in Korea. February 14 was the day when the Japanese court sentenced An to death in 1910.

An’s undiscovered handwriting was put up for auction again after another handwriting piece sold for about $1.46 million in December last year, the highest price among An’s handwriting. At that time, it turned out that Kim Woong-ki, chairman of Global Seah Group, was the winning bidder. He bought Kim Whan-ki’s Universe 5-IV-71 #200, the highest price among Korean artworks, for about $9.88 million in 2019, and is an art lover who was listed as one of the world’s top 200 collectors. Many collectors with An’s handwriting inquired about the bidding at the Seoul Auction. In particular, the successful bid, which was originally owned by a Japanese, attracted attention as it meant returning the item to Korea. The same goes for An’s handwriting this time, and this entry is expected to attract attention.

Two works, which, if sold at auction, could have the meaning of being returned to Korea, are also released. They are Poem, Orchids (estimate: $187,700 – $262,800) by Kim Jung-hee, a top calligrapher and painter in the late Joseon Dynasty, and Gathering of Xiyuan (estimate: $75,100 – $225,300) by Yoo Woon-hong, a painter with detailed and meticulous handwriting.

In addition, in the field of modern and contemporary art, Kim Whan-ki’s 4-XI-69 #132 (estimate: $750,800 – $1,501,600), Yun Hyong-keun’s Umber-Blue (estimate: $450,500 – $675,700), and Park Soo-keun’s Landscape (estimate: $300,400 – $450,500) are looking for new owners.

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Jonathan Feel
Jonathan Feel

Jonathan Feel is a reporter and editor for Auction Daily in Korea. He has been active in various fields such as the media, social economy, village community, and fair trade coffee industry and is writing. It is recognized that art is not far from society and the times, and that art can be a tool for the sustainability of the Earth and mankind. He hopes that good works and artists in Korea will meet with readers.

김이준수는 한국 주재 옥션데일리 필진이자 편집자이다. 언론, 사회적경제, 마을공동체, 공정무역 커피업계 등 다양한 분야에서 활동했고 글을 쓰고 있다. 예술이 사회·시대와 동떨어져 있지 않으며, 예술이 지구와 인류의 지속가능성을 위한 도구가 될 수 있음을 인식하고 있다. 한국의 좋은 작품과 아티스트를 많이 소개하고 싶다.

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