The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum presents Only the Young: Experimental Art in Korea, 1960s–1970s, the first North American museum exhibition dedicated to Korean Experimental art (silheom misul) and its artists, whose radical approach to materials and process produced some of the most significant avant-garde practices of the twentieth century.
On view from September 1, 2023, through January 7, 2024, this historic presentation examines artistic production from an era of remarkable transformation in South Korea, when young artists who came of age in the decades following the Korean War reflected and responded to the changing socioeconomic, political, and material conditions that accompanied the nation’s rapid urbanization and modernization. The exhibition is centered on a network of key artists, including Ha Chong-Hyun, Jung Kangja, Kim Kulim, Lee Kang-So, Lee Kun-Yong, Lee Seung-taek, and Sung Neung Kyung, who, in addition to creating boundary-pushing works of art, pursued exhibitions, performances, publications, and public seminars, often under the rubric of self-organized collectives. Porous in nature, groups such as the Korean Avant Garde Association, Space and Time, and the Fourth Group, as well as nationwide exhibition platforms such as the Daegu Contemporary Art Festival and international biennials, provided fertile grounds for innovative – and often provocative – practices that broke definitively with those of their predecessors. While the artists never formally announced a movement, the term “Experimental art” was first historicized in a landmark publication by Kim Mikyung based on her doctoral dissertation Experimental Art and Society in 1960s and 1970s Korea (2000), which has since propelled a reexamination of this influential but understudied group of artists.