Korea’s Modern and Contemporary Art Auctions Heat Up Ahead of Frieze Seoul

Jonathan Feel
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Modern and contemporary art from Korea and abroad will be auctioned in August ahead of large-scale art fairs (Frieze Seoul & Kiaf) in September. Two sales from K Auction and Seoul Auction are expected to be centered on works with marketability that has been verified amid the adjustment of the Korean art market.

K Auction will hold an event at its headquarters in Sinsa-dong, Seoul on August 23, 2023, and Seoul Auction will hold a sale at the Gangnam Center on August 29. K Auction will have a total of 61 works, estimated to be worth about USD 5.44 million, and Seoul Auction will bring a total of 97 works together worth about $3.72 million.

Kim Whan-ki, Untitled. Image courtesy of K Auction.
Kim Whan-ki, Untitled. Image courtesy of K Auction.

Two of the various formative experiments that artist Kim Whan-ki attempted when he was active in New York (1963 – 1974) will be presented at the August sale from K Auction. These two works were painted in 1968 with oil on newspapers. Kim, who moved from Korea to New York, began researching and experimenting with form and color. Accordingly, he pursued painting that formed a universal consensus, not a national color. The available lots contain the results of such a formative experiment. The estimates for both works range from about $45,000 to $135,000.

Works by Korean experimental artists Kun Yong Lee, Kang-So Lee, and Bae Lee, who have recently attracted attention in Korea and are actively introduced overseas in places such as New York, are also drawing attention. In addition, works by abstract artists such as Hyong-keun Yun and Seo Bo Park, as well as works by artists such as Tschang-yeul Kim, Chong Hak Kim, Dae-won Lee, YeomSoo Hwang, Sook-Ja Lee, Kwan Nam, and Heung-Sou Kim, will find a new owner. Do Ho Suh, one of the next generation of contemporary artists, is also represented in the upcoming sale. The estimated price of his available work is between $21,000 and $37,000.

Lee Ufan’s From Winds (1982) has the highest presale estimate among K Auction entries this month. The work is estimated to fetch between $600,000 to $900,000. Most of the existing Wind series works are gray, but this work is evaluated to give a strong impression and vitality by using orange. Another of his works, With Winds (1989), with gray color, is also available with an estimated price of $150,000 to $190,000.

Yoshimoto Nara, Burst Barricade. Image courtesy of K Auction.
Yoshimoto Nara, Burst Barricade. Image courtesy of K Auction.

Foreign artists represented in these August events include two works by Japan’s neo-pop leader Yoshitomo Nara, four by Ayako Rokkaku, and four by Yayoi Kusama. Among them, Yoshimoto Nara’s Burst Barricade is viewed as a sublimation of anti-war ideas into art that the artist considered while studying in Germany. Estimates range from $190,000 to $260,000.

Both auction companies have attracted attention by presenting works by Kyung-ja Chun. K Auction presents The Dancer of Agra (1979; estimate: $22,000 – $44,000), while Seoul Auction offers The Woman from Java (1986; estimate: $186,000 – $372,000).

Leading the upcoming event from Seoul Auction is Soo-geun Park’s Return with an estimated price of about $446,000 to $595,000. In addition, works by Jik-soon Yim, Joong-sik Yoon, and In-sung Lee will be presented, as well as Yeon (1966; estimate: $335,000 – $595,000) and Work (1984; estimate: $300,000 – $450,000) by Korean abstract art master Young-guk Yoo.

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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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