Korean Fine Art

Korea has a rich fine art tradition that dates back millennia and continues to thrive today. From elaborate tomb murals to modern calligraphy and painting, Korean fine art is celebrated and highly valued worldwide.

The origins of Korean fine art have been traced back to cave paintings created around 3000 B.C., which evolved into the complex tomb murals of the Goguryeo period (circa 372 A.D.). These elaborate murals, which included renderings of the local landscapes and members of the ruling elite, have been cited as the first examples of landscape painting and portraiture in Korea.

As in ancient times, painting was the predominant visual art form practiced in Korea throughout the 20th century, and that tradition continues today. Often, Korean artists have a special affinity for abstraction, a style that developed in the 1930s.

Quick Facts

  • Korea’s intent to become a major force in the visual arts is evidenced by the recent creation of the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Seoul. The institution cost more than $230 million to develop and is intended to rival the best museums in the world
  • Calligraphy is considered to be the apogee of Korean Confucian art, visually reflecting the culture’s interest in an ascetic worldview and an aesthetic sensibility stripped to the bare essentials. Korean calligraphic artists strive to convey emotion and personality through the style of their brushwork
  • Korean fine art continues to thrive today, carried on by a new generation of internationally celebrated artists such as Lee Ufan, Park Seo-bo, and Kim Guiline

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