K Auction to Sell Modern and Contemporary Korean Art This July

Jonathan Feel
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As the market heads into the second half of 2023, reports show that the Korean art auction market is shrinking significantly from the same period last year. Some auction houses are looking to change that trend. This July, K Auction will auction 101 works, including Kim Whan-ki’s New York-era works, worth about USD 4.92 million (KRW 6.2 billion). The upcoming auction, which will be held at the company’s headquarters in Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul on July 26, will showcase various works.

WookKyung Choi's Untitled. Image courtesy of K Auction.
WookKyung Choi’s Untitled. Image courtesy of K Auction.

One eye-catching lot in the sale is Women on the Market Road by artist Park Sookeun from the early 1960s. The estimated price of the work is $320,000 to $555,000 (KRW 400 million to KRW 700 million). At that time, Park Sookeun was suffering from a chronic disease but did not stop drawing. The available work contains compassion for humans and affection for ordinary life. It is characterized by a simple but dense composition. “It is difficult to meet artists who expressed the lives of ordinary Koreans in the 1950s and 60s as honestly as Park Sookeun,” K Auction said. “There are also factors that make many people feel desperate after the war.”

The catalog includes many paintings by major Korean artists in modern and contemporary times. VII-66, painted by Kim Whan-ki in New York, is estimated to sell for about $285,000 to $395,000 (KRW 360 million to KRW 500 million), and Kim Chang-yeol’s Water Drop SH86810-86 estimated to fetch between $55,000 to $142,000 (KRW 70 million to KRW 180 million). Chung Sang-Hwa’s Untitled 84-1-2, which frequently utilizes the blue color of his hometown sea, has an estimate of $316,000 to $414,000 (KRW 400 million to KRW 600 million). Lee Ufan’s Correspondence has an estimate of $316,000 to $414,000 (KRW 400 million to KRW 600 million), Seo Bo Park’s ecriture No. 070905 is estimated to sell for between $158,000 to $238,000 (KRW 200 million to KRW 300 million), and Ha Chong Hyun’s construction 97-022 may achieve $143,000 to $253,000 (KRW 180 million to KRW 320 million).

Still Life (estimate: $25,000 to $63,000, KRW 32 million to KRW 80 million) by To Sangbong, which features a deep atmosphere in typical Western painting techniques, and Untitled (about $50,000 to $63,000, KRW 63 million to KRW 80 million) by the abstract artist WookKyung Choi, which burned one’s artistic soul, will also be auctioned. “She has created a world of works from abstraction and collages to ink drawing using intense primary colors,” K Auction said about the artist. “[This work] features free-spirited lines and abstract aspects under the influence of Abstract Expressionism, which was popular in the United States.”

Artworks by Kun Yong Lee, Ku-lim Kim, and Kang-So Lee, who were at the forefront of Korean experimental art, may also find new owners. Ku-lim Kim’s Yinyang 5-S.92 (about $51,500 to $103,000, KRW 65 million to $130 million), Kang-So Lee’s From an Island-07368 (about $33,000 to $71,000, KRW 42 million to KRW 90 million), and Kun Yong Lee’s Bodyscape 76-1-2019 (about $54,000 to $95,000, KRW 68 million to 120 million) will be available.

Robert Indiana's Love(green/Blue). Image courtesy of K Auction.
Robert Indiana’s Love(green/Blue). Image courtesy of K Auction.

In the overseas art sector, Yayoi Kusama’s Watermelon (about $708,000 to $1.26 million, KRW 900 million to KRW 1.6 billion), Robert Indiana’s Love (Green/Blue) (about $236,000 to $315,000, KRW 300 million to KRW 400 million) and Ayako Rokkaku’s The Hair which Flutters (about $157,000 to $275,000, KRW 200 million to KRW 350 million) will be auctioned. The sale will also feature editions by Alex Katz, Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, Julian Opie. and Damien Hirst and photos by Candida Hofer.

The auction entries can be viewed free of charge at the K Auction exhibition hall until July 26, when the auction will be held.

Meanwhile, Seoul Auction will hold a sale in Daegu on July 25. The auction, which will be held at the Culture Hall on the eighth floor of Shinsegae Department Store in Daegu, is estimated to bring in about $5.67 million (KRW 7.2 billion) in 77 works, including by Lee Ufan, Marc Chagall, and Andy Warhol. Lee Ufan’s 1990 painting With Wind will be auctioned at a starting price of $1.65 million (KRW 2.1 billion).

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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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