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International Loan Exhibition of Korean Art Opens at Metropolitan Museum
Drum-shaped Bottle with Decoration of Fish, Bird, and Lotus. Late 15th-early 16th century. Buncheong ware with iron-brown design; h. 14.4 cm, l. approx. 22 cm. Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka. Cat. 23.
NEW YORK, NY.- The early Joseon period, a time of extraordinary artistic achievements in Korea, will be explored in a loan exhibition opening at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in March 2009. Showcasing approximately 47 spectacular works—painting, ceramics, metalwork, and lacquer—Art of the Korean Renaissance, 1400-1600 will illustrate the lively and nuanced story of the formidable cultural renaissance that flourished during these two centuries. Drawn from major museums and collections in Korea, Japan, Germany, and the United States—including the National Museum of Korea; Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art; Kyushu National Museum of Japan; Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka; Museums of East Asian Art, Cologne; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Cleveland Museum of Art; Mary and Jackson Burke Foundation; and the Florence and Herbert Irving Collection—the exhibition will also include the Metropolitan's recently acquired mid-16th-century hanging scroll, Gathering of Government-officials. The presentation will launch a series of focused exhibitions on important periods in Korean art history, to be held at the Museum over the next 10 to 15 years.

With the establishment of the Joseon ("Fresh Dawn") dynasty in 1392, secular art and culture thrived. The Neo-Confucian royal court and elite scholar-officials, the primary patrons of the arts, created an environment in which Korean and East Asian classical traditions were re-emphasized, and innovative art forms were celebrated. At the same time, Buddhism—which had been the state religion on the Korean peninsula for over 1,000 years—though actively suppressed publicly, remained an enduring part of the Korean culture during the early Joseon period.

Organized into six thematic sections, the exhibition will display many seldom seen masterpieces. Among them are a rare set of eight hanging scrolls titled Eight Views of the Xiao and Xiang Rivers (Jinju National Museum of Korea), which exemplifies the Korean transformation of an earlier Chinese pictorial tradition; a number of superlative examples of early Joseon white porcelain, including a striking flask-shaped bottle (Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art); an exceptional Buddhist painting (dated to 1570) illustrating a popular narrative and featuring inscriptions written in the Korean alphabet, which was invented in 1443; and a winsome painting titled Mother Dog and Puppies (National Museum of Korea) by Yi Am (1507-66), a descendent of the Great King Sejong (r. 1418–50) and an artist renowned for his unique paintings of royal-breed animals. A painting of a majestic falcon (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)—formerly attributed to a Chinese painter and recently reattributed to Yi Am—will be introduced for the first time as a Korean painting.

The exhibition is organized by Soyoung Lee, Assistant Curator in the Metropolitan Museum's Department of Asian Art.




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