Joan Kee

  • Lee Jungseop, Bird, ca. 1950s, oil on paper, 8 7⁄8 × 7 1⁄2". From “MMCA Lee Kun-hee Collection: Lee Jung Seop.”


    Joan Kee is Professor in the History of Art at the University of Michigan and a Ford Foundation Scholar in Residence at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and a contributing editor of Artforum. Her book The Geometries of Afro Asia: Art Beyond Solidarity is forthcoming from the University of Cailfornia Press in April 2023.


    After the Korean government lifted both social-distancing and overseas-traveler-quarantine requirements this past spring, the art world of Seoul began riding the K-wave. Frieze Seoul mobilized local galleries and museums while drawing new international audiences. Perhaps

  • Chao-Chen Yang, Young Chinese Guerrilla, ca. 1943, chlorobromide print, 16 × 13". © Chao-chen Yang Estate.


    PHOTOGRAPHY MAY BE AT THE PERPETUAL MERCY of scalar adjustment, but Apprehension is among those images whose intensity remains constant no matter where it is seen. Its central feature is the magnified face of a young Asian man who grasps a telephone receiver as he might a cudgel. Deep furrows are etched into his forehead, and a lock of hair falls across his face. Two errant hairs extending beyond his eye read like fracture lines portending some future dissolution or rupture. Illuminated from an unseen source below, the man’s face is a terrain of shadow and light. His flesh becomes a histrionic

  • Suh Se-ok in his studio. Photo: Joe Yeun Lee. Courtesy Lehmann Maupin.
    passages December 14, 2020

    Suh Se-ok (1929–2020)

    “YOU CANNOT FORGET that ink painting is a living thing.” Born in 1929 in the modern art stronghold of Daegu in Japan-occupied Korea, Suh Se-ok belonged to the first postcolonial generation of Korean artists grappling with both the aftermath of a bitter colonial history and a war so devastating that “postwar” meant something entirely different in Korea than in other parts of the world. Beginning his career in the turmoil that followed Korean liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945, Suh hoped to purge from Korean art the compositional strategies and color schemes used in nihonga, the term

  • Photo: Brian Green

    Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning

    A well-aimed spear of a book, Cathy Park Hong’s Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (Penguin Random House) has as much to say about artistic interpretation as it does about the exhausting arithmetic faced by every human raced as Asian in America. Touching on topics such as credential accumulation, racial divides, and the complexities of ethnicity and transnational movement, this collection of essays quickly, if sometimes unevenly, articulates the pursuit of credibility whose stakes are nothing less than survival. Evoking the just barely suppressed exasperation Adrian Piper displays in

  • View of “Haegue Yang,” 2020–21. From Left: Triple Verdant Clang Wild and Tamed, 2017; Sonic Clotheshorse – Dressage #3, 2019; Sonic Clotheshorse – Dressage #4, 2019; Trumpeting Female Root, 2019; Dry Spell at Villeperdue, 2016; The Intermediate – Dragon Conglomerate, 2016; The Intermediate – Unmanned Peacock Rocks, 2017.
    September 03, 2020

    “Haegue Yang: Emergence”

    Curated by Adelina Vlas

    On the heels of her recent, atrium-filling installation at the newly refreshed Museum of Modern Art, New York, Haegue Yang yet again flexes her plurimedial wings in this first survey of her work ­­­in North America. Spanning the arc of Yang’s robust career from 1994 to the present—and including two new commissions—the exhibition features more than seventy of her installations, sculptures, paintings, photographs, prints, and performances, which engage with histories of art, culture, and science without being subordinate to them. Moving deftly beyond Duchampian tactics of

  • Park Rehyun, Glory, 1967, ink on paper, 52 3/5 × 66 1/8".
    July 17, 2020

    Park Rehyun

    Curated by Yejin Kim

    Histories of contemporary art often relegate ink painting to the status of historical reference or revisionist novelty—even in Asia. This autumn, the Deoksugung branch of the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea will make a case for that medium’s centrality to an expanded history of postwar art with a retrospective of the protean Park Rehyun (1920–1976). A woman in a decidedly patriarchal world, Park enjoyed a remarkably prodigious career that in many ways outshone that of her celebrated husband, the artist Kim Kichang. Known for pushing the limits of conventional


    GOOGLE NGRAM tells us that litigation enjoyed a dramatic spike in popularity in English-language publications beginning in 1969, roughly when copyright, cultural property, and environmental law started to proliferate as well. Art law first appears somewhat later, in 1972, a year when art markets boomed and artists questioned the nature and value of their labor. Legal scholars such as John Henry Merryman took note of these shifts. Together with art historian Albert E. Elsen and attorney Stephen K. Urice, Merryman forwarded a provocative argument in the 1979 casebook Law, Ethics and the Visual

  • Haegue Yang, Thread with Fishhook, 1995–96, varnish, thread, and fishhook on chipboard, 10 7/8 × 9 7/8".

    “Haegue Yang: ETA 1994–2018”

    The peripatetic Korean-born artist Haegue Yang was awarded this year’s Wolfgang Hahn Prize, whose past recipients include James Lee Byars, Isa Genzken, and Rosemarie Trockel. Yang stages metaphorical conversations between various everyday objects in her installations, which range from the uncannily anthropomorphic to the unyieldingly deadpan. Her largest exhibition to date, “ETA 1994–2018,” marks her receipt of the award and features an encyclopedic array of more than a hundred works, including photographs and videos as well as her signature installations.

  • Song Dong, Stamping the Water (detail), 1996, thirty-six C-prints, each 24 × 15 3/4". From “Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World.”


    Like a world’s fair, a survey exhibition is a dinosaur—yet its appeal remains irresistible for curators and audiences alike. And the stakes are exponentially raised when the art on display inhabits the eye of a political hurricane. “Art and China After 1989”—the first major survey of contemporary Chinese art in almost two decades—seeks to ignite its own blaze with a sprawling display of more than one hundred works in the fields of film, video, painting, photography, installation, Land art, and

  • Yayoi Kusama, Flower Overcoat, 1964, wood hanger, plastic flowers and metallic paint on cloth overcoat, 50 3/4 × 28 7/8 × 5 3/4".

    “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors”

    Bolstered by the artist’s 2012 retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Kusama legend—and blue-chip brand—is poised for even greater recognition via this major chronological survey of more than sixty paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Coinciding with a proliferation of new scholarship (and amplified by an extensive catalogue produced for the occasion), the show will include lesser-known works made after the artist’s return to Japan from New York in 1973. But as the exhibition title indicates, its main draw will surely be its

  • Fei-Hao Chen, Family Documents in Translation: Soldiers Before the Taiwan Gokoku Shrine, 2016, ink-jet print, 5 × 7".
From the Taipei Biennial.

    Taipei Biennial

    Eschewing lofty ruminations or far-future speculation, the tenth edition of the Taipei Biennial keeps things local, focusing on archive construction. Held at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, among the most established institutions for the promotion of contemporary art in the Asia-Pacific region, the show will have a generative home base for reflecting on and critiquing practices of institutional bureaucracy. More than seventy individual artists and groups will present works of visual art, dance, performance, music, and film; these offerings will be coupled with symposia,

  • Lee Kit, His right hand is holding something, 2015, acrylic, emulsion paint, ink-jet print, and pencil on cardboard, towel, 23 5/8 × 48".

    “Lee Kit: Hold Your Breath, Dance Slowly”

    Doing humble things to humble objects is at the heart of Hong Kong–born, Taiwan-based Lee Kit’s practice. Lee’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States surveys a decade of the artist’s understated investigations of the expanding contiguity between art and everyday life. Spanning a diverse range of media, from modest configurations of handpainted cardboard supports to a thirteen-channel video installation of stacked monitors depicting common household products (I can’t help falling in love, 2012), the show demonstrates Lee’s foregrounding of