In this Case: Nam June Paik Archive
June 19, 2014
If you've been following Eye Level for a while, you won't be surprised to know we love Nam June Paik. We celebrate his birthday every summer and held a comprehensive exhibition of more than 60 of his artworks, some of which were on public view for the first time. This month, we completed the installation of the Paik Archive case in the Luce Foundation Center. If you were able to see the exhibition you might remember some of these pieces from our Paik archive wall, including the sitting red Buddha and four martial arts figurines.
The archive, which the American Art Museum acquired in 2009, contains more than 10,000 objects and 55 linear feet of books and papers. So how did we choose what to feature in only one case in the Luce Center? A team made up of members from the curatorial, collections management, and exhibition staffs culled through the objects to select pieces that are representative of the archive, keeping in mind how the objects and papers provide insight into Paik's art and ideas. We've included an Untitled (robot) which we've affectionately nicknamed Paikbot, to show Paik's interest in humanizing technology. There's also an elaborate painted wood and metal bird cage. Paik collected bird cages, like this one to use in pieces about his friend, teacher, and avant-garde composer John Cage. Paintings might not initially come to mind when thinking about the work of Nam June Paik, but he did paint throughout his career. We hung one of his untitled paintings of two figures resembling robots in this case and it appropriately illustrates his minimalist esthetic and provides a nice complement to Paikbot, which sits on a small shelf below.
One last note: Paikbot's on Twitter! If you are too, follow him to receive regular updates about the Luce Center, our programs, and Nam June Paik-related items.