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View of “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary,” 2012–13. Foreground: TV Garden, 1974/2000. Background: Selected objects from the Nam June Paik Archive.

Nam June Paik

Smithsonian American Art Museum

View of “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary,” 2012–13. Foreground: TV Garden, 1974/2000. Background: Selected objects from the Nam June Paik Archive.

THE CATALOGUE for “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary” opens by comparing the artist with Picasso, claiming that because of his prescience and influence, the former is to the second half of the twentieth century what the latter is to the first half. If retrospective exhibitions alone are any indicator of the accuracy of this claim, it rings true. While he was alive, Paik had four major museum retrospectives in the US and abroad and helped plan an art center outside Seoul dedicated to his work, which opened after his death in 2006. Since then, there have been several more museum exhibitions in Europe, followed by this one, curated by John G. Hanhardt, who helmed two of the artist’s previous surveys, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, in 2000, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, in 1982. Yet this bounty of exhibitions also raises the question, Why another?

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