The Buk Seoul Museum of Art and Myongji University’s The Research Institute: The History of Photography jointly present the exhibition “VIP 1950-60: Vintage in Photography”. The exhibit features approximately 100 photographs, owned by theSeoul Museum of Art, that date from the 1950s to the 1960s. . By featuring the work of six major Korean photographers active mainly in the 1950-60s, the exhibition hopes to offer an overview of major trends in the history of modern Korean photography.
The 1950s and 1960s were a time of major change, both for Korean society and the photography community. The turbulence of liberation from colonial rule and the Korean War gave birth to a brand of everyday life-based realism that served as a reflection of reality. There was also a movement that aspired to create a highly independent atmosphere in which artists sought to capture an object’s essential nature. It is the diverse range of experimental artwork that utilizes these themes and methods of expression that became the momentum for the broadening of the boundaries of modern Korean photography.
The exhibition is divided into two galleries (Photography Gallery 1, 2), with one gallery devoted to the RIHP Collection and the other to the SeMA Collection. The RIHP Collection features the vintage photographic works of Hyeon Il-young, Lee Hae-seon and Lee Hyeong-rok, noted artists who did not restrict themselves to the heavily standardized trends of realism and pictoralism of the day, but instead demonstrated a balance between photography as a record of reality and its formative nature.
The SeMA Collection features the work of Han Young-su, Hong Sun-tae and Ju Myeong-deok, who present a realistic depiction of life in Korea, and particularly Seoul, in the 1950s and 60s. While heavily utilizing the basic nature of photography as a recording agent, the works of these photographers still show each artist’s unique perspective. In capturing aspects of Korean society and everyday life as well as their gradual transformation over time, the photographs in this collection are a vivid representation of the real world.
To better aid understanding of the socio-historical context of the photographs, the exhibition also has on display monthly periodicals and leaflets from the 1950s and 60s featuring the participating artists alongside their artwork in the galleries.
The 1950-60s was a watershed period in modern Korean photographic history in which artists experimented with the photograph’s nature as a recording agent while developing their own unique perspective. “VIP 1950-60: Vintage in Photography” is an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the 1950s and 60s in Korea and get a glimpse of the perspectives and work of each of the six featured “VIP” photographers.