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Nam June Paik: Global Visionary

December 13, 2012 – August 11, 2013


Image for Nam June Paik: Global Visionary

Nam June Paik, Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, 1995, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist © Nam June Paik Estate

The artwork and ideas of the Korean-born artist Nam June Paik were a major influence on late twentieth-century art and continue to inspire a new generation of artists. Nam June Paik: Global Visionary offers an unprecedented view into the artist’s creative method by featuring key artworks that convey Paik’s extraordinary accomplishments as a major international artist as well as material drawn from the Nam June Paik Archive, which was acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum from the artist’s estate in 2009.

The exhibition includes 67 artworks and more than 140 items from the Archive. Several rare artworks borrowed from private and public collections in the United States and abroad, including TV Garden (1974/2000) from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Whitney Buddha Complex (1982) from the Hessel Museum of Art at Bard College, and Paik’s rarely seen installation Moon Projection with E Moon and Birds (1996), on loan from the Paik Estate, are featured. Three exceptional artworks from the museum’s collection will be included: Zen for TV (1963/1976), Megatron/Matrix (1995), and Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii (1995).

In addition to objects from the archive, a number of artworks in the exhibition are on public display for the first time including; Electronic Schematic Drawing for Paik-Abe Video Synthesizer (1969), Number 5 (1975), Untitled (Television) (about 1970), Cage TV Sketch (about 1970), Untitled (Purple and Yellow Face) (about 1970), Untitled (Television and Moon) (1978), a selection of eighteen Untitled (Newspaper Drawings) (1990s), and Chinese Memory (2005).

Nam June Paik: Global Visionary offers the extraordinary range of the artist’s accomplishments and the complexity of his ideas. It features his personal history through thematic groupings that draw on the resources of the Nam June Paik Archive. Paik’s writings and the materials he collected reveal the influences of Asian and Western philosophy, as well as developments in technology and science. The museum will use these materials to show the development of his innovative and radical conceptualization of the future roles of communication technologies in the expanding global media culture. John G. Hanhardt, senior curator of film and media arts and the leading expert on Paik and his global influence, is organizing the exhibition with the assistance of Michael Mansfield, associate curator of film and media arts.

Connecting Online
One of the robots created by Paik has “come to life” on Twitter under the handle @PaikBot. Visitors can follow PaikBot for behind-the-scenes information, interesting facts about Paik, and ask questions about the exhibition. Also, you can help PaikBot travel the world with our Flat PaikBot project on Pinterest.

Photographs and time-lapse videos documenting the installation of the exhibition are on Flickr and on YouTube. Follow the museum for exhibition updates on Facebook, on Twitter by using #paik. An interactive digital archive is available in the galleries as a research reference for Paik’s art and career.

The exhibition catalogue is written by John Hanhardt and focuses on Paik’s global journey and multidisciplinary art practice. It will include an introduction by Elizabeth Broun, the museum’s director, and an essay by the artist’s nephew Ken Hakuta reflecting on his uncle’s life. The book, co-published by the Smithsonian American Art Museum and D Giles Limited, is for sale ($55) in the museum store, through the museum’s website and at bookstores nationwide.

About the Nam June Paik Archive
The Nam June Paik Archive is a blend of traditional paper holdings—letters, writings, and ephemera—and objects—studio effects, recordings, vintage electronics, and other source materials. The archive includes Paik’s early writings on art, history, and technology as well as performance scores, production notes for videotape and television projects, plans for video installations, vintage photographs, and documentation of large-scale television projects such as Guadalcanal Requiem (1977/1979) and The More the Better (1988). The archive includes a variety of early models of televisions and video projectors, radios, record players, and cameras. Toys, games, folk sculptures, more than 300 books and magazines, and the desk where he painted in his studio are also part of the archive. Each aspect of the collection gains strength from the other, and together they present a fascinating picture of the artist’s life, work and creative process. Support for the Nam June Paik Archive was received from the Smithsonian’s Collections Care and Preservation Fund.

Public Programs
Numerous public programs ranging from scholarly lectures and gallery talks to films and family activities are planned to celebrate the life, art, and enduring influence of Nam June Paik. A full schedule of exciting programs is online so you can save-the-date. Join us on Sunday, April 14, 2013 for a daylong exploration of Paik’s artistic legacy, Nam June Paik: Art & Process. A symposium will take place from 1 to 4 p.m., followed by an evening performance, Strange Music for Nam June Paik, at 7 p.m. with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Academy Award- and Grammy Award-winning musician and composer; Steina Vasulka, video artist; and Stephen Vitiello, electronic musician and media artist. Free tickets for both the symposium and concert will be available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 12:30 p.m. in the museum’s G Street Lobby. Remaining concert tickets will be distributed again at 6:30 p.m. Below are links to the museum’s calendar for more information.

January 11, 2013, 7 p.m., Nam June Paik: "Father of Video Art", a talk by curator John Hanhardt
January 23, 2013, noon, Conservation of Our Collection: Nam June Paik
January 29, 2013, 6 p.m., Gallery talk with curator John Hanhardt
February 12, 2013, 6 p.m., Gallery talk with curator Michael Mansfield
March 20, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Film series and discussion with curator John Hanhardt
April 14, 2013, 1 – 8:00 p.m., Nam June Paik: Art and Process symposium, gallery talk, and Strange Music for Nam June Paik performance
April 24, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Film series and discussion with curator John Hanhardt
May 5, 2013, 11:30 a.m., Paikbot Family Day
May 15, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Film series and discussion with curator John Hanhardt
June 4, 2013, 6 p.m., Gallery Talk with curator Michael Mansfield
June 12, 2013, noon, Conservation of Our Collection: Nam June Paik
June 26, 2013, 9 a.m., Symposium: Conserving and Exhibiting the Works of Nam June Paik
June 27, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Film series and discussion with curator Michael Mansfield
July 17, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Film series and discussion with curator Michael Mansfield
July 20, 2013, 11:30 a.m., Nam June Paik’s birthday celebration
July 30, 2013, 6 p.m., Gallery Talk with curator Michael Mansfield
August 8, 2013, 6:30 p.m., Film series and discussion with curator Michael Mansfield

Go behind-the-scenes with the museum's blog, Eye Level
In Closing: The Impact of Nam June Paik on Contemporary Art, August 7, 2013
Celebrating Nam June Paik's Birthday, July 18, 2013
Picture This: Paikbot Family Day, May 7, 2013
Nam June Paik: Musician and Media Artist Stephen Vitiello Interviews Composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, April 9, 2013
Picture This: PaikBot's Virtual Travels,February 12, 2013
Nam June Paik from A to Zen, January 16, 2013
Nam June Paik: Because Almost All of the Audience is Uninvited, January 4, 2013
Installing Nam June Paik: 4 Days in 3 Minutes, December 6, 2012
Nam June Paik: Television as Medium, November 27, 2012
Gardening in the Age of the Moving Image, October 30, 2012
Introducing Paikbot!, September 20, 2012
The Moon is a Television: On Nam June Paik's 80th, July 25, 2012
Nam June Paik: Birthdays Are Always Fun, July 5, 2012

In the News
NEA Arts, Nam June Paik: The Artist Who Invented Video Art by Josephine Reed
Art in America, February 6, 2013, Nam June Paik: Preserving the Human Televisions by John Anderson
The New York Times, January 11, 2013, He Tickled His Funny Bone, and Ours by Karen Rosenberg
Express, January 10, 2013, Complete Circuit by Katie Aberbach
Forbes, January 3, 2013, If You Think 'Breaking Bad' Is Edgy, You Obviously Haven't Seen Nam June Paik's 'Magnet TV' by Jonathon Keats
Washington City Paper, December 21, 2012, In a scattered retrospective, Smithsonian struggles to pin down the father of video art by Jeffrey Cudlin
DC ist, December 21, 2012, Nam June Paik: Global Visionary at Smithsonian American Art Museum by Martin Austermuhle
BBC News, December 17, 2012, Living Online, Visual artist Nam June Paik predicted internet age by Matt Danzico and Jane O'Brien
Washington City Paper, December 17, 2012, How the American Art Museum Acquired and Rehabilitated Nam June Paik’s Work by John Anderson
The Washington Post, December 16, 2012, Smithsonian American Art Museum channels Nam June Paik by Philip Kennicott
The Washington Times, December 14 2012, Artist Nam June Paik used electronics in inventive and goofy ways by Deborah K. Dietsch
The Washington Post, December 12, 2012, ’Father of video art’ Nam June Paik gets American Art Museum exhibit by Maura Judkis

Nam June Paik: Global Visionary is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with generous support from Sheila Duignan and Mike Wilkins; Barney A. Ebsworth; Marilou and Ken Hakuta; Maureen and Gene Kim; Korea Foundation; Wendy and Jerry H. Labowitz; Paula and Peter Lunder; Share Fund of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region; The Starec Trust; Roselyne Chroman Swig; and the Barbara & Howard Wise Endowment for the Arts.