Skin has become inadequate in interfacing with reality. Technology has become the body’s new membrane of existence.
—Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik (1932–2006) brought the television to fine art, treating it as a tactile and multisensory medium and object. Trained as a classical pianist, he came into contact with protagonists of the counterculture and avant-garde movements of the 1960s through his early interests in composition and performance, and this engagement profoundly shaped his outlook at a time when electronic images were becoming increasingly present in everyday life. His groundbreaking work is considered seminal to the development of video art.
Born in Seoul, Paik fled with his family in 1950 to escape the Korean War, traveling first to Hong Kong and then to Japan. After graduating from the University of Tokyo in 1956, he moved to West Germany to continue his studies. There he met the composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and John Cage, as well as the conceptual artists George Maciunas and Joseph Beuys, all of whom deeply affected his thoughts on performance. He joined the Fluxus group in 1962 and moved from the manual manipulation of audiotapes to experimenting with television sets and their screens. Two years later, by this time living in New York, Paik met the cellist Charlotte Moorman, a central figure of the city’s avant-garde, and the two began a collaboration that would last until her death in 1991. Paik created many of his most well-known works for Moorman, including TV Bra for Living Sculpture (1969) and TV-Cello (1971).
Prior to moving to the United States, Paik had met the engineer Shuya Abe, who would also become a longtime collaborator as well as his assistant. Abe helped Paik make his first robot, Robot K-456, in 1964. Composed of metal fragments, fabric, a data recorder, and a loudspeaker that plays recordings of speeches by John F. Kennedy, Robot K-456 captures Paik’s interest in merging popular media and technology with human traits; possessing abstracted breasts and penis, it moves on wheels and is programmed to periodically defecate beans. Paik showed this remote-controlled robot in several exhibitions and performances in New York throughout the 1960s. In 1982, during his first major museum exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, he took Robot K-456 out into the street to orchestrate an “accident”: the robot walked down Madison Avenue and was hit by a car as it attempted to cross 75th Street. For Paik, this spectacle represented a “catastrophe of technology in the twentieth century.”
Alongside his robotic works, Paik maintained a dynamic drawing practice, both in works on paper and in multimedia sculptures and installations. His modified television sets, in particular, combine the moving image with the free, expressive gesture of abstraction; using brightly colored markers, paints, and other materials, Paik would add expressive layers to the screens. Lion (2005), a monumental assemblage comprising twenty-eight television screens and a hand-painted guardian lion sculpture framed within a wooden arch, displays fast-paced montages of flowers, animals, and fish, as well as footage of lions and Merce Cunningham dancing. Lion is emblematic of Paik’s late style, in which he often reflected upon the many artists and performers who influenced his oeuvre.
September 26–November 9, 2017
Extended through September 17, 2016
A group exhibition of text-based works
June 1–September 17, 2016
The Shape of Time
In Collaboration with Gisèle Croës
November 26, 2015–January 9, 2016
Nam June Paik
The Late Style
September 17–November 7, 2015
Time by Dance by Paik
Gillian Jakab considers the role of choreography in Nam June Paik’s 1989 video installation Fin de Siècle II.
Life and Technology: The Binary of Nam June Paik
Alexander Wolf explores the intersection of life and technology as it exists in the work of Nam June Paik, revealing the artist’s ability to balance technological concerns with humanity through music, performance, expressive painting, and images from nature.
Art Basel Hong Kong 2019
March 29–31, 2019, booth 1C18
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Gagosian is pleased to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong 2019, with works by Georg Baselitz, Edmund de Waal, Urs Fischer, Katharina Grosse, Andreas Gursky, Duane Hanson, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Yayoi Kusama, René Magritte, Giorgio Morandi, Takashi Murakami, Albert Oehlen, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, Rachel Whiteread, Jonas Wood, Christopher Wool, Zao Wou-Ki, Zeng Fanzhi, and others.
Zeng Fanzhi, Rooster, 2019 © 2019 Zeng Fanzhi
Taipei Dangdai 2018
January 18–20, 2019, booth D13
Taipei Nangang Exhibition Center
Gagosian is pleased to participate in the inaugural edition of Taipei Dangdai, Taiwan’s first international art fair. Marking the gallery’s first presentation in Taiwan, the booth will include artworks by Georg Baselitz, Joe Bradley, John Currin, Edmund de Waal, Urs Fischer, Helen Frankenthaler, Katharina Grosse, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Takashi Murakami & Virgil Abloh, Nam June Paik, Sterling Ruby, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, and others.
To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at firstname.lastname@example.org. To attend the fair, purchase tickets at taipeidangdai.com. To preview our booth, go to artsy.net.
Georg Baselitz, 5 mal endwärts, 2018 © Georg Baselitz 2019
West Bund Art & Design 2018
November 8–11, 2018, booth A120
West Bund Art Center, Shanghai
Gagosian is pleased to participate in West Bund Art & Design for the first time, with a booth of modern and contemporary works by artists including Glenn Brown, Dan Colen, John Currin, Jean Dubuffet, Rachel Feinstein, Urs Fischer, Walton Ford, Ellen Gallagher, Douglas Gordon, Jennifer Guidi, Hao Liang, Damien Hirst, Thomas Houseago, Alex Israel, Y.Z. Kami, Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Nam June Paik, Richard Prince, Sterling Ruby, Ed Ruscha, Rudolf Stingel, and Jonas Wood.
Additionally, a large-scale painting by Takashi Murakami, Dragon in Clouds – Indigo Blue (2010), will be installed in a special presentation at the entrance to Hall N. To receive a PDF with detailed information on the works, please contact the gallery at email@example.com. To preview our booth, go to artsy.net.
Thomas Houseago, Untitled (Colored Skull I), 2018 © Thomas Houseago
Nam June Paik
Through February 9, 2020
Tate Modern, London
This major exhibition brings together more than two hundred works from throughout Nam June Paik’s five-decade career—from robots made from old TV screens, to his innovative video works, and all-encompassing room-size installations. The exhibition looks at his close collaborations with Joseph Beuys, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Charlotte Moorman, and others.
Nam June Paik, TV Garden, 1974–77 © Estate of Nam June Paik
The Body Electric
March 30–July 21, 2019
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
In an age dominated by digital technology, The Body Electric explores themes of the real and the virtual, the organic and the artificial, moving from world to screen and back again. This exhibition presents work by an international and intergenerational group of artists who examine ways that photographic, televisual, and digital media change our perceptions of the human body and everyday life. Work by Bruce Nauman and Nam June Paik is included.
Nam June Paik, TV Cello, 1971 © Nam June Paik Estate
Nam June Paik in
Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018
September 28, 2018–April 14, 2019
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
This exhibition aims to establish connections between works of art based on instructions, spanning more than fifty years of conceptual, video, and computational art. The pieces in the show are all “programmed” using instructions, sets of rules, and code, but they also address the use of programming in their creation. Work by Nam June Paik is included.
Nam June Paik, Fin de Siecle II, 1989, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York © Nam June Paik Estate
Nam June Paik
May 20–October 14, 2018
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California
Nam June Paik’s TV Clock (1963/89) is on view for the first time in nearly a decade. The work consists of twenty-four color televisions mounted upright on pedestals that are arranged in a gentle arc and displayed in a darkened space. Paik created each electronic image by manipulating the television to compress its red, green, and blue colors into a single line against a black background.
Nam June Paik, TV Clock, 1963/89 © Nam June Paik Estate