A detail from a painting by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1991

Yun Hyong-keun

This online presentation of works by Yun Hyong-keun opened in parallel with the artist’s recent exhibition on view from January 17–March 7, 2020 at the gallery’s 537 West 20th Street location in New York.

One of the most significant Korean artists of the twentieth century, Yun is widely recognized for his signature abstract compositions, which engage with yet transcend Eastern and Western art movements and visual traditions.

Focusing on the artist’s work from the late 1980s and 1990s, the exhibition features distinctive abstract paintings from this late period of Yun’s career. 
Included here are a number of works on paper from the artist's solo exhibition, along with a selection of small paintings that have been made available exclusively online.


Image: Yun Hyong-keun, Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1991 (detail)

A composite image featuring works by Yun Hyong-keun, dated 2019
“Since I saw some of them at David Zwirner last week, I’ve been struggling to understand why Yun Hyong-keun’s paintings from the late 1980s and early ’90s are so enthralling…. There’s the color, of course. Ultramarine and burnt umber combine into a distinctly sweet and mysterious black. You register both tones at once but can’t distinguish them. This feels like a spiritual experience—it pits an intuitive certainty against the inadequacy of your own conscious perceptions. Then there’s the confidence of those smoky but unmistakable edges with their occasional halos of brownish static. Set against the densely textured raw linen Yun painted on, these assertive lines are another appealing certainty, one unshaken by emptiness all around them. But in the end, I think what fascinates me is the way that every black rectangle, whether tall and narrow or one of several, echoes the shape of the canvas it’s painted on. It makes them into paintings within paintings, or like shadows peeled up off the ground and reattached to the objects that cast them.”

Read the full review by Will Heinrich in The New York Times
A painting by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1992.

Yun Hyong-keun

Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1992
Oil on linen
25 3/4 x 31 3/4 inches (65.5 x 80.5 cm)
$90,000 On Reserve
Yun created his compositions by adding layer upon layer of paint onto raw canvas, linen, or Hanji, often applying the next coat before the last one had dried.
Working directly on his studio floor, he produced simple arrangements of intensely dark, vertical bands surrounded by untouched areas.
A painting by Yun Hyong-keun titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1992.

Yun Hyong-keun

Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1992
Oil on linen

19 7/8 x 24 inches (50.5 x 61 cm)

 

SOLD

Installation view of the exhibition Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective, at Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, in 2019.
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, 2019.
Image © Laziz Hamani. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun. 
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, 2019.
Image © Laziz Hamani. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun. 
Installation view of the exhibition Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective, at Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, in 2019.
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, 2019.
Image © Laziz Hamani. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun. 
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, 2019.
Image © Laziz Hamani. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun. 
An installation view of the exhibition Yun Hyong-Keun: A Retrospective at Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, Italy, dated 2019
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, 2019.
Image © Laziz Hamani. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun. 
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective, Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, 2019.
Image © Laziz Hamani. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun. 
An oil painting on linen by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1996.

Yun Hyong-keun

Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1996
Oil on linen
63 7/8 x 51 3/8 inches (162.3 x 130.6 cm)
$250,000

“I paint a single wail, with no small talk.”

 

—Yun Hyong-keun, diary entry from 1977

Yun’s mature works of the 1990s, of which several examples are presented for the first time in his current exhibition, show the refinement of his interests and technique to an acute, monumental level.

A painting by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1992.

Yun Hyong-keun

Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1992
Oil on linen

20 7/8 x 25 3/4 inches (53 x 65.5 cm)

 

SOLD

An oil painting on linen by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine Blue, dated 1997.

Yun Hyong-keun

Burnt Umber & Ultramarine Blue, 1997
Oil on linen
25 3/4 x 39 3/8 inches (65.5 x 100 cm)
$100,000

In these later works, Yun’s abstract forms become larger and darker, lines in some of his paintings become tighter and straighter, and the edges of his forms appear less diffuse and more defined.

Installation view of the exhibition Yun Hyong-keun: A Retrospective, at Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, in 2019.
Installation view, Yun Hyong-Keyn: A Retrospective. Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, Itatly, 2019.
Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun. ©Laziz Hamani
Installation view, Yun Hyong-Keyn: A Retrospective. Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, Itatly, 2019.
Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun. ©Laziz Hamani

“He attempted to draw the highest degree of expressiveness from very simple elements that remained unchanged over the decades: raw canvas, dark and very diluted pigments, repeated gestures and dreams.”

—Daniela Ferretti, in Yun Hyong-keun (2019)

An installation view of works by Yun Hyong-keun, dated 2020
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun, David Zwirner, New York, 2019
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun, David Zwirner, New York, 2019
An installation view of works by Yun Hyong-keun, dated 2020
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun, David Zwirner, New York, 2019
Installation view, Yun Hyong-keun, David Zwirner, New York, 2019

The artist’s approach to monochromatic abstraction centered on the use of an extremely limited palette of dark pigments that he allowed to bleed naturally over unprimed canvas.

He also experimented with the absorbent qualities of Hanji, a Korean paper made from the bark of the mulberry tree.

A drawing by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1995.

Yun Hyong-keun

Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1995
Oil on Hanji
24 3/4 x 37 3/8 inches (63 x 95 cm)
Framed: 30 5/8 x 43 1/4 inches (77.8 x 109.9 cm)
$66,500
A drawing by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1989.

Yun Hyong-keun

Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1989
Oil on Hanji
18 7/8 x 25 5/8 inches (48 x 65 cm)
Framed: 24 7/8 x 31 5/8 inches (63.2 x 80.3 cm)
$63,000

“Nature, however you look at it, is always unadorned, fresh, and beautiful. I wonder if my paintings could capture the beauty of nature. No, it would be impossible. Even so, I want to make paintings that, like nature, one never tires of looking at. That is all that I want in my art.”

 
—Yun Hyong-keun, “A Thought in the Studio,” in Yun Hyong-keun (2015)

 

A detail from a drawing by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1992
Yun Hyong-keun, Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1995 (detail)
Yun Hyong-keun, Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1995 (detail)

“What Yun got from Rothko, and how he made it his own, is as complicated and nuanced as it was for Robert Ryman. In fact, a show of Rothko, Ryman, and Yun could be illuminating,”

 

Read the full review by John Yau in Hyperallergic.

A drawing by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1992.

Yun Hyong-keun

Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1992
Oil on Hanji
21 x 32 5/8 inches (53.3 x 82.9 cm)
Framed: 26 5/8 x 38 5/8 inches (67.6 x 98.1 cm)
$66,500
A drawing by Yun Hyong-keun, titled Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, dated 1995.

Yun Hyong-keun

Burnt Umber & Ultramarine, 1995
Oil on Hanji

25 1/8 x 18 1/2 inches (63.8 x 47 cm)
Framed: 31 x 24 1/2 (78.7 x 62.2 cm)

 

SOLD

$35,000
A photograph of Yun Hyong-keun's studio,  dated 1978
Yun Hyong-keun’s studio in Seogyo-dong, 1978. © Yun Seong-ryeol. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun.
Yun Hyong-keun’s studio in Seogyo-dong, 1978. © Yun Seong-ryeol. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun.

Learn more about Yun Hyong-keun
A view of Yun Hyong-keun's studio, dated 1980.
A view of Yun Hyong-keun’s studio, 1980. Image © Yun Seong-ryeol. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun.
A view of Yun Hyong-keun’s studio, 1980. Image © Yun Seong-ryeol. Courtesy of the Estate of Yun Hyong-keun.

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