Critics’ Picks


Kim Chung-up

Kim Chung-Up Architecture Museum
13912 Anyang Art Park
March 31–June 17

As the only Korean who worked in Le Corbusier’s atelier, Kim Chung-up laid the foundation for contemporary Korean architecture after returning to his war-devastated country. Yet his unwillingness to conform to Park Chung-hee’s military regime prevented him from rising to the role of state architect that he deserved, and until now, the details of his time in Paris have remained obscure. This exhibition focuses on Kim’s three-year apprenticeship, from 1952 to 1955, in Le Corbusier’s office, unveiling the secret kernel of his architectural odyssey.

The exhibition is made up of four sections, beginning with a prologue and proceeding in chronological order, from his refugee life during the Korean War just before meeting Le Corbusier to his first solo exhibition in Seoul a year after his homecoming. Unquestionably, the standouts here are Kim’s original architectural drawings for Le Corbusier’s ventures of the early 1950s, including projects in Chandigarh and Ahmedabad, and Maisons Jaoul and Unité d'Habitation in France. These works were chosen by curator Eunmi Ko from 320 compositions for twelve projects found in the archive of the Fondation Le Corbusier. Oscillating between mechanic clarity and dexterous poetry, the nuanced quality of these renderings—in which the natural landscape plays no small role—represents the second wind of the Chung-up’s career, which first began, with success, in Japan during the colonial period. Ultimately, this trove of plans, drawings, and photographs reveals how Le Corbusier’s tutelage informed the romantic resonance of Kim’s postwar Korean modernism, a grace perhaps epitomized by the upturned corners of the roof of the iconic French Embassy Chancery in Seoul, realized in 1962.