|Art Museums in Seoul|
Papertainer (which means paper and container) opened to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Design House, a well-known publishing company in Korea. Located in Olympic Park, the museum is constructed of thick paper tubes and old steel containers, and no cement. Not only is it easy to assemble and dismantle, Papertainer doesn’t generate any industrial waste. Moreover, this type of architecture is aesthetically pleasing.
The building was designed by Japanese architect Ban Shigeru (Professor of Environment Information Department, Keio University). In the 1980s, he created a new kind of architecture using paper tubes as an alternative to mainstream architecture, which earned him a reputation as an environmentally-friendly architect. Together, with a Korean architect Yoon Gyeong-sik, they completed a spectacular space constructed of 353 paper tubes for the pillars and 166 containers for the walls. The interior is divided into three main parts: Exhibition Hall 1, where the architectural theme is made of paper columns; Exhibition Hall 2, consists of container space; and an outdoor atrium, which is the heart of the building.
First, the Paper Gallery features an exhibition called ‘Spotlight on 30 Women,’ which sheds new light on historical and legendary Korean female figures including Empress Myeongseong, Yu Gwan-Sun, Hwang Jin-I, and Na Hye-seok. Featuring images, photos and paintings, the exhibition aims for a visual portrayal of famous female figures and an interpretation that differs from male-centric historical accounts. Thirty participating artists include well-known names such as Nancy Lang, Kim Jung-man, and Jung Kuho.
Secondly, the ‘Container Gallery’, focuses on art marketing, and features designers’ work of 30 brands including Samsung Anycall, Nike Korea, and Bean Pole. In each container, an artist has artistically and implicitly expressed the imagery of a particular brand. This exhibition is interesting in that it not only sheds new light on corporate brand values from a visual perspective, but explores brand in terms of art marketing.
After a tour of the galleries, visitors can head to the outdoor terrace to relax. The circular space, which lends to the cozy restfulness, features sculptures from the Olympic Park. From here, visitors can get a good view of the paper pillars and container spaces. It is the perfect spot for sitting on the grass with a cup of warm tea, and enjoying the innovative space of the Papertainer Museum.
→ Click here for more info on the Papertainer Museum
|Samsung Museum of Art LEEUM|
Opened on October 13, 2004, the Samsung Museum of Art Leeum is located very close to Itaewon. Housed in a three-story building with two underground levels, the collection includes traditional art, national art treasures, modern art, and international art. Its two buildings include Museum 1, which is designed by Mario Botta from Switzerland and Museum 2 which is designed by Jean Nouvel from France. Located at the entrance of the museum, the Samsung Children’s Education Cultural Center was designed by Rem Koolhaas from the Netherlands.
The involvement of three architects with contrasting personalities in one project is quite rare, but it offers a great opportunity for visitors to appreciate various architectural forms at one site. Inspired by Korean ceramics, Mario Botta used ancient art with terra cotta tiles as a symbol of earth and fire for Gallery 1. Jean Nouvel expressed the cutting edge of modern art by using rusted stainless steel and glass while enabling visitors to experience an informal arrangement of floor space. Likewise, Rem Koolhaas designed a futuristic architectural space that seems to float in the air using black concrete, a material used for the first time ever.
The exhibition space mainly consists of Museum 1 and 2, along with the special exhibition gallery. Museum 1 houses 36 national treasures and 96 treasures as well as major works of art from prehistoric times to the Joseon Dynasty. The collection encompasses ceramics, Buddhist paintings, metal artifacts, and calligraphy, showcasing the essence of Korea’s traditional art. In particular, Museum 1 has a well-designed flow and a rotunda that seamlessly connects the exhibition spaces.
Museum 2 features modern and contemporary Korean art with the works of Lee Sang-beom and Byeon Kwan-sik that characterizes contemporary Korean art from 1910 on. Representing the Korean aesthetic in general are the works of Lee Joong-seop, Park Soo-keun and Chang Uc-chin. They offer an overall view of the history of Korea’s modern and contemporary art with additional works by world-famous Kim Hwan-ki and Nam June Paik, and other young artists like Seo Do-ho and Lee Bul. Also of interest are works by abstract artists such as Mark Rothko and Frank Stella; conceptual artist Joseph Beuys; and contemporary artists such as Matthew Barney and Damien Hirst.
In addition, the museum also hosts three or four special events, topical exhibitions, and international exchange exhibitions at the Samsung Children’s Education Cultural Center and Black Box.
|Gana Art Gallery|
Not far from Gwanghwamun Gate in downtown Seoul is Pyeongchang-dong, a district long known for its affluence. The area boasts elegant private residences as well as long-established, prestigious galleries. Of them, Gana Art Gallery is a major gallery for Korean modern art in terms of its architecture and scale of exhibitions.
Since its 1983 opening in Insadong, the gallery has spearheaded the introduction of world modern art trends to the public through exhibitions of overseas artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Jean Dubuffet. However, it has also contributed to the development of Korean art by searching out promising Korean artists and organizing special exhibitions. Together with the Insa Art Center in Insadong, the Pyeongchang-dong gallery (opened in 1998) is an exhibition cultural space that represents the spirit of Gana Art. The new bulding in Pyeongchang-dong was designed by world-renowned architect Jean Michel Wilmotte in 1948 from France, who also designed some of the interior additions to the Louvre and British museums as well as the interior of Incheon International Airport.
The architecture has been praised for expressing Korea’s moderate yet gentle architectural beauty and providing functionality that enables a multipurpose use of the space. In 2000, it was selected to be included in the Architecture of the Millennium by German architecture magazine Taschen.
The exhibition space consists of three galleries on two floors. Exhibits cover a wide range of contemporary and modern art forms including paintings, installation art, and designs of Korea and the West. Sculptures from the gallery’s permanent collection are placed both inside and outside the gallery. Apart from the exhibition gallery, the museum also houses a 300-seat outdoor stage with a state-of-the-art sound system for holding special events such as classical music, popular music, and mime performances. There is also a restaurant, a number of facilities, and art shops.
Next to Gana Art Center is the Gana Forum Space, which was also designed by Wilmotte. It is an exhibition space for paintings, dimensional art, photography, visual art, and installation art, and also houses Seoul Auction, which is a leading auction company of Korea.