WASHINGTON (AFP).- He's famously known as the father of video art, but an exhibition that opened Thursday in Washington promises a wide-angle view of the life and work of the late Nam June Paik.
"Nam June Paik: Global Visionary," at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until August 11, brings together 67 artworks and more than 140 items from the South Korean-born artist's archive, which was gifted to the museum in 2009.
"He was the first who truly grasped the way television would transform everything in our world," said museum director Elizabeth Broun, who called Paik a Picasso-like "center of gravity" for late 20th century contemporary art.
"The exhibition gives viewers the opportunity to experience a full portrait of the artist, and also recognizes Paik's desire to astonish through a playful aesthetic," added curator John Hanhardt.
Paik, who died in 2006, moved to New York in 1964 but traveled widely as he seized upon the unstoppable global expansion of television as inspiration for video installations, sculpture, performance pieces, paintings and music.
Exhibits at the Smithsonian range from the billboard-sized "Megatron/Matrix" with its 215-screen melange of images from the Seoul Olympics and traditional Korean culture to one of Paik's artistically altered "prepared" pianos.
Also on view, testifying to Paik's unique sense of humor in the face of sweeping technological change, are sculptures of Buddha and Rodin's Thinker watching television.
Complementing the exhibition is an ongoing series of films, talks and, on April 14, a concert with Oscar-winning Japanese musician Ryuichi Sakamoto performing Paik's musical compositions.
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