Korean art is art originating or practiced in Korea or by Korean artists, from ancient times to today. Korea is noted for its artistic traditions in pottery, music, calligraphy, and other genres, often marked by the use of bold color, natural forms, and surface decoration.
LANDSCAPE OF GEUMGANGSAN IN KOREA. INK ANDORIENTAL WATERCOLOUR ON PAPER. JEONGSEON (1676–1759).
THE EARLIEST EXAMPLES OF KOREAN ART CONSIST OF STONE AGE WORKSDATING FROM 3000 BCE. THESE MAINLY CONSIST OF VOTIVE SCULPTURES,ALTHOUGH PETROGLYPHS HAVE ALSO BEEN RECENTLY REDISCOVERED.THIS EARLY PERIOD WAS FOLLOWED BY THE ART STYLES OF VARIOUSKOREAN KINGDOMS AND DYNASTIES. KOREAN ARTISTS SOMETIMESMODIFIED CHINESE TRADITIONS WITH A NATIVE PREFERENCE FOR SIMPLEELEGANCE, PURITY OF NATURE AND SPONTANEITY.THE GORYEO DYNASTY (918-1392) WAS ONE OF THE MOST PROLIFICPERIODS FOR ARTISTS IN MANY DISCIPLINES, ESPECIALLY IN POTTERY.THE KOREAN ART MARKET IS CONCENTRATED IN THE INSADONG DISTRICTOF SEOUL WHERE OVER 50 SMALL GALLERIES EXHIBIT AND THERE AREOCCASIONAL FINE ARTS AUCTIONS. GALLERIES ARE CO-OPERATIVELY RUN,SMALL AND OFTEN WITH CURATED AND FINELY DESIGNED EXHIBITS. IN EVERYTOWN THERE ARE SMALLER REGIONAL GALLERIES, WITH LOCAL ARTISTSSHOWING IN TRADITIONAL AND CONTEMPORARY MEDIA. ART GALLERIESUSUALLY HAVE A MIX OF MEDIA. ATTEMPTS AT BRINGING WESTERNCONCEPTUAL ART INTO THE FOREGROUND HAVE USUALLY HAD THEIR BESTSUCCESS OUTSIDE OFKOREA IN NEW YORK, SANFRANCISCO, LONDON AND PARIS.
Neolithic art Humans have occupied the Korean Peninsula since at least 700,000 BCE. Pottery dated to approximately 7,000 BCE has been found. This pottery was made from clay and fired over open or semi-open pits at temperatures around 700 degrees Celsius. The earliest pottery style, dated to circa 7,000 BCE, were flat- bottomed wares (yunggi-mun) were decorated with relief designs, raised horizontal lines and other impressions. Jeulmun-type pottery, is typically cone-bottomed and incised with a comb-pattern appearing circa 6,000 BCE in the archaeological record. This type of pottery is similar to Siberian styles. Mumun-type pottery emerged approximately 2000 BCE and is characterized as large, undecorated pottery, mostly used for cooking and storage.
Bronze Age art Between 2000 BCE and 300 BCE bronze items began to be imported and made in Korea. By the seventh century BCE, an indigenous bronze culture was established in Korea as evidenced by Korean bronze having a unique percentage of zinc. Items manufactured during this time were weapons such as swords, daggers, and spearheads. Also, ritual items such as mirrors, bells, and rattles were made. These items were buried in dolmens with the cultural elite. Additionally, iron-rich red pots began to be created around circa 6th century. Comma-shaped beads, usually made from nephrite, known as kokkok have also been found in dolmen burials. Kokkok may be carved to imitate bear claws. Another Siberian influence can be seen in rock drawings of animals that display a “life line” in the X-ray style of Siberian art.
Iron Age art The Iron Age began in Korea around 300 BCE. Korean iron was highly valued in the Chinese commanderies and in Japan.Korean pottery advanced with the introduction of the potters wheel and climbing kiln firing. Three Kingdoms art This period began circa 57 BCE to 668 CE. Three Korean kingdoms, Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla vied for control over the peninsula.
Goguryeo Buddhism was introduced to Goguryeo first in 372 CE because of its location spanning much of Manchuria and the northern half of Korea, closest to the northern Chinese states like the Northern Wei. Buddhism inspired the Goguryeo kings to begin commission art and architecture dedicated to the Buddha. A notable aspect of Goguryeo art are tomb murals that vividly depict everyday aspects of life in the ancient kingdom as well as its culture. UNESCOdesignated the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs and as a World Heritage Site because Goguryeo painting was influential in East Asia, including Japan, an example being the wall murals of Horyu-ji which was influenced by Goguryeo. Mural painting also spread to the other two kingdoms. The murals portrayed Buddhist themes and provide valuable clues about kingdom such as architecture and clothing. These murals were also the very beginnings of Korean landscape paintings and portraiture. However, the treasures of the tombs were easily accessible and looted leaving very little physical artifacts of the kingdom.
Baekje is considered the kingdom with the greatest art among the three states. Baekje was a kingdom in southwest Korea and was influenced by southern Chinese dynasties, such as the Liang. Baekje was also one of the kingdoms to introduce a significant Korean influence into the art of Japan during this time period
The Silla Kingdom tombs were mostly inaccessible and so many examples of Korean art come from this kingdom. The Silla craftsman were famed for their gold- crafting ability which have similarities to Etruscan and Greek techniques, as exampled by gold earrings and crowns. Because of Silla gold artifacts bearing similarities to European techniques along with glass and beads depicting blue-eyed people found in royal tombs, many believe that the Silk Road went all the way to Korea. Most notable objects of Silla art are its gold crowns that are made from pure gold and have tree and antler-like adornments that suggest a Scythe-Siberian and Korean shamanistic tradition.
A SEOKGURAM SCULPTURE FROM THE SILLADYNASTY, 8TH CENTURY AD
AVALOKITESHVARA PAINTING FROM THE KOREANGORYEO DYNASTY, 1310 CE., KAGAMI JINJYA,JAPAN