Kim Whan-ki’s New York-Era Works to Sell at Auction

Jonathan Feel
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Works painted by Korean abstract artist Kim Whan-ki during his time in New York will soon appear at auction. Artist Kim is the highest-priced artist in Korean art auction history, and his work Universe was sold for about HKD 88 million (KRW 13.2 billion, excluding purchase fees) with Christie’s Hong Kong in 2019.

Korean art auction company K Auction will exhibit 105 lots, including Kim Whan-ki’s works, worth about USD 5.8 million (KRW 7.7 billion) at its headquarters in Gangnam, Seoul, on May 31, 2023. The auction will feature three works by Kim Whan-ki from his New York era (1963 – 74). During this period, Kim fell into the world of pure abstraction and all-over dot painting, which represents his late painting style.

Kim Whan-ki, untitled, oil on Korean paper, 1970s. Image courtesy of K Auction.

In addition, Drawing Girls by Park Soo-keun, a painter who is most loved by Koreans for his work on Korean lyricism, will also appear in the auction. This work was painted with canola on hardboard, and ten girls are shown gathered together to draw. Park rarely painted in bright colors such as red, yellow, and green. The estimated price of this piece is $210,000 (KRW 280 million) to $3,000,000 (KRW 400 million). K Auction explained, “The free-spirited appearance and rough expression techniques of the characters are prominent, and the clothes of various colors such as red, yellow, and green worn by girls are unique.”

Park Soo-keun, Drawing Girls, oil on hardboard, 1960s. Image courtesy of K-Auction.
Park Soo-keun, Drawing Girls, oil on hardboard, 1960s. Image courtesy of K-Auction.

In addition, works by major modern figurative artists such as Oh Chi-ho, Lee Dae-won, Hwang Yeom-soo, and Kwon Ok-yeon; abstract works by Yun Hyong-keun, Lee Ufan, and Chung Chang-sup; and works by late monochromatic artists such as Lee Kun-yong, Lee Kang-so, Chun Kwang-young, Lee Bae, and Nam Tchun-mo will be auctioned.

In the overseas art sector, works by artists who have been steadily traded in domestic and foreign art markets, including Amoako Boafo, Ugo Rondinone, Julian Opie, Andy Danzler, Chiharu Shiota, and Ayako Rokkaku, are waiting for a new collector. Editions by Robert Indiana, David Hockney, Andy Warhol, Alex Katz, and Yoshitomo Nara also appear. The auction entries will be available at the K Auction exhibition hall until May 31, the auction day.

Meanwhile, K Auction signed an agreement with Japan’s “The New Art Est-Ouest Auction” to share art sourcing and sales capabilities for the globalization of art auctions. Through this, K Auction introduces Korean art to Japanese and Hong Kong collectors and provides Korean collectors with easy access to overseas art.

“We will be able to have the same effect as overseas expansion through strategic cooperation without a fixed workplace or manpower input for overseas auction of artworks,” K Auction said. “We will continue to make it easy for collectors around the world to participate in global art auctions.”

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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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