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The Shape of Time: Korean Art after 1989

October 21, 2023 @ 10:00 am - February 11, 2024 @ 5:00 pm

Philadelphia Museum of Art

2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130 United States

What you see is the unseen: The Shape of Time: Korean Art after 1989

October 21, 2023–February 11, 2024

This exhibition brings together works by contemporary artists of Korean descent in a vibrant installation that filters individual artistic practice through the collective memory of a generation that lived under South Korea’s authoritarian regime—and was the first to experience its new democratic freedoms. Born between 1960 and 1986, many of the artists trained in Europe and the United States, immersing themselves in Euro-American ideals while coming of age at a time of rapid change in Korea.

The artists bend time—addressing the past, present, and future, sometimes all in the same work—and place to make sense of their complex cultural experiences. They reflect on the rapid urbanization and industrialization that shaped South Korea, unresolved political tensions with North Korea, the use of traditional techniques in contemporary art, the pressure to conform to societal norms around gender and sexuality, and their own resistance to these experiences.

As we expect of contemporary art, nothing is off limits. Each artist works in the medium that best delivers their message, be it fiber, painting, ceramics, photography, embroidery, installation, lacquer, video, metalwork, or performance. This is the first major showing of Korean contemporary art in the US since 2009. Many of the artists are well known in South Korea or have an international following, but others have not yet been properly introduced to audiences beyond Korea, especially in American museums, until now.


October 21, 2023 @ 10:00 am
February 11 @ 5:00 pm


Philadelphia Museum of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19130 United States
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