Kim Whan-ki painting sets new Korean art sale record

Kim Whan-ki painting sets new Korean art sale record

A painting by Korean abstract artist Kim Whan-ki (1913-1974) once again broke the record for the auction price of a Korean artwork, Sunday.

Kim’s yellow-dotted oil painting “12-V-70 #172” was sold for HK$ 41.5 million (6.32 billion won) at Seoul Auction’s 20th Hong Kong sale at the Hong Kong Grand Hyatt, Sunday. It had an estimated price range between 4.5 billion and 5.8 billion won, but an Asian collector’s winning bid well exceeded that estimate.

This breaks the previous record of 5.4 billion won also set by one of Kim’s works during an auction in Seoul in June. Created during Kim’s New York stay, the 236-by-173-centimeter painting is a rare yellow one, while most of Kim’s dotted paintings are blue.

“Kim’s works hold value in that he autonomously absorbed Western art from Asia and created his own style,” Seoul auction said. “The uniqueness in color of the yellow-dotted work seems to have contributed to breaking the record.”

After Sunday’s auction, Kim topped the top five in the ranking of most expensive Korean artworks ever sold — “Untitled 27-VII-72 #228” (1972) for 5.4 billion won, “Untitled” (1970) at 4.86 billion won, “19-VII-71 #209” (1971) at 4.72 billion won and “Untitled 3-V-71 #203” (1971) at 4.56 billion won.

All of these are large dotted paintings from the early 1970s. Kim worked on cotton canvas, creating a spreading effect seen in traditional Korean ink-and-wash paintings, and meticulously filled big canvases with dots. Kim is considered a pioneer of Korean abstract art and inspired the Dansaekhwa (monochrome painting) movement.

Kim Yoon-sub, director of the Korean Arts Management Institute, said Kim Whan-ki is likely to surpass the 10 billion won mark in a domestic or international auction.

“Korean modern art is gaining recognition globally as veteran Dansaekhwa artists and younger contemporary generation artists such as Lee Bul and Suh Do-ho are acknowledged overseas. Kim Whan-ki’s works are at the zenith of Korean modern art and it is no wonder his works become highly acclaimed home and abroad,” Kim said.


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