‘Donation of the century’: South Korea unveils late Samsung boss’ 23,000-strong artwork assortment

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Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Contributors Yoonjung Seo, CNNJake Kwon, CNN

Museum guests have been given a primary have a look at a number of the 23,000 artworks donated to South Korea from the gathering of Samsung’s late chairman, Lee Kun-hee.

Two exhibitions of the gadgets opened in Seoul on Wednesday, simply months after the businessman’s household introduced the donation because it seeks to settle an inheritance tax invoice of over 12 trillion received ($10.four billion).

The works are exhibiting on the National Museum of Korea and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA), the recipients of Lee’s huge assortment. Items on show embody centuries-old antiques and modern Korean artworks, whereas work by Western names like Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet are set to be unveiled subsequent yr.

“Clearing after Rain on Mount Inwang,” created by court docket painter Jeong Seon in 1751. Credit: Courtesy National Museum of Korea

Lee, whose father based expertise conglomerate Samsung within the 1930s, died final October aged 78. In April, his household introduced that it was anticipating to pay greater than half the worth of his property in inheritance tax over a interval of 5 years.

That similar day, South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism revealed that the Lee household was donating roughly 23,000 antiques and artworks to public collections. In a press assertion on the time, the ministry mentioned the acquisition would assist the 2 establishments “compete with famous museums abroad.”

Neither Lee’s kinfolk nor the museums have disclosed the worth of the donation or confirmed how, and even whether or not, it would determine into the household’s inheritance tax commitments.

A painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, "La Lecture," was among the items donated by Lee's family to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA).

A portray by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, “La Lecture,” was among the many gadgets donated by Lee’s household to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA). Credit: Courtesy National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

MMCA obtained nearly 1,500 of the works, in what the museum this week known as “the donation of the century.” According to senior curator Park Mihwa, the gathering of work, drawings and sculptures represented the only largest contribution obtained by the museum “in terms of both value and scale.”

“The rare and major artworks of the early 20th century and overseas works have greatly enhanced the quality and quantity of the museum,” Park instructed CNN, describing the acquisition as “an opportunity to expand the horizons of art history research through continuous research.”

“We have obtained masterpieces that would have been difficult to purchase with our annual collection budget of 5 billion won ($4.35 million),” she added. “So we expect this collection will help art tourism as well as help South Korea to become a powerhouse of art culture in the future.”

Artists ‘beloved by Koreans’

Among the gadgets acquired by MMCA are 119 works by Western artists, together with Paul Gauguin, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí and Joan Miró. But greater than 90% of the items are by modern Korean artists, together with over 100 works by painter Lee Jungseop and nearly 70 by celebrated craftsman Yoo Kangyul.

"Women and Jars," by Korean painter Kim Whanki.

“Women and Jars,” by Korean painter Kim Whanki. Credit: Courtesy National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art

The museum’s new exhibition options artwork created from the 1920s to 1970s, spanning the intervals of Japanese occupation, the Korean War and the following army dictatorship. Park mentioned the present highlights work “by 34 artists loved by Koreans,” together with influential panorama artist Byeon Gwansik, summary painter Kim Whanki and modern sculptor Kwon Jinkyu.

At the National Museum of Korea, in the meantime, an exhibition of older artifacts from Lee’s assortment additionally opened Wednesday. The present options 45 historic gadgets, together with Buddhist statues, uncommon woodblock prints and Bronze Age earthenware.

The museum can be exhibiting quite a few gadgets deemed “National Treasures” by the South Korean authorities, together with an ink wash portray by the Joseon dynasty court docket artist Jeong Seon and a gilt bronze bodhisattva relationship again to the sixth century.

A bodhisattva, cast in bronze in the 6th century, was among the items deemed a "National Treasure" by South Korea's government.

A bodhisattva, solid in bronze within the sixth century, was among the many gadgets deemed a “National Treasure” by South Korea’s authorities. Credit: Courtesy National Museum of Korea

Earlier this month, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism revealed that it’s planning to construct a brand new museum devoted solely to Lee’s assortment, with two candidate websites in Seoul presently into account.

Top picture: “Bull,” (c. 1950s) by Korean painter Lee Jungseop.

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