Nam June Paik

Year of birth, place
1932, Seoul, Korea, Republic of (South Korea)
Year of death, place
2006, Miami Beach, United States
Role at the ZKM
in the collection
June Paik was born in Seoul in 1932. In 1950 he emigrated with his family to Japan, where he studied Music, Art History and Philosophy at the University of Tokyo. He completed his studies in 1956 with a thesis on Arnold Schönberg. He then moved to Germany, studying History of Music at the University of Munich (1956-57) and Composition, under Wolfgang Fortner, at the Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg (1957-58). Paik taught at the Kunstakademie, Düsseldorf from 1979 to 1996. In 1987 he became a member of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste, Berlin. He has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Guggenheim Prize, awarded in New York, the Rockefeller Foundation Prize, the American Foundation Institute Prize, the 'Kaiserring' bestowed by the city of Goslar (1991), the Picasso Medal awarded by UNESCO (1992), and, most recently, the 'Goethe-Medaille' awarded by the Goethe-Institut (1997). Paik lives in Düsseldorf and New York.

During the 1960s Paik, together with Joseph Beuys, George Maciunas, were the leading figures in the fluxus movement. Paik was able to acquire a broad knowledge of the technological possibilities opened up for music by the new media through his participation, in 1957 and 1958, in the International Summer School for New Music held annually in Darmstadt, and trough working with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the studio for electronic music at the WDR broadcasting channel in Cologne. Using a video camera, Paik then embarked on attempting to translate his ideas from the realm of music into that of the visual arts. In 1970-71, working with Shuya Abe, he evolved a video-synthesizer, which could be used to process and manipulate videotaped images. In 1963, at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, Paik exhibited his first works incorporating specially adapted television sets. In 1964 he started working with the cellist Charlotte Moorman, who played Paik's compositions during their joint performance pieces. Around this time, Paik also made his first video installations. Paik has continued to use the television set as a consumer product and a form of raw material, out of which he creates his work in the manner of a sculptor, simultaneously enlivening the result with integrated video images. In his work he opposes mankind to technology, and he juxtaposes different cultures - these being contrasts and contradictions to which his own life (in East and West) has alerted him. The largest installation Paik has made was produced to mark the Olympic Games held in Seoul in 1988 and included one thousand and three monitors. In his performance art of the 1980s, Paik made use of satellite technology in order to transmit electronic images to specific receivers all around the world. 

Individual exhibitions (selection)
1963 »Exposition of Music-Electronic Television«, Galerie Parnass, Wuppertal
1976 Kunstverein, Cologne
1980 »V-IDEA«, Galerie Watari, Tokyo
1982 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; »Videokunst in Deutschland 1963-1982«, Kunstverein, Cologne, subsequently at Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster; Kunsthalle, Nuremberg
1984 »Good Morning, Mr. Orwell«, daadgalerie, Berlin; Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo
1985 »Family of Robot«, Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati
1988 »Nam June Paik: Video Works 1963-88«, Hayward Gallery, London
1989 »Nam June Paik: La Fée électronique«, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; »Eine Kerze«, Portikus, Frankfurt/M
1990 »Grafiken und Multiples«, Galerie Lüpke, Frankfurt/M
1991 »Video Time - Video Space«, Kunsthaus, Zürich; subsequently at Kunsthalle, Basle; Kunsthalle, Düsseldorf; Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna
1994 »Electronic Super Highway: Nam June Paik in the 90's«, Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, Florida, subsequently at Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; Columbus Museum of Art; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, and at venues in San Jose, Lisbon, Jacksonville, Kansas City and Honolulu
1995 »Baroque Laser«, Pfarrkirche Mariae Himmelfahrt-Dyckburg in Münster-Sankt Mauritz; »Nam June Paik - High Tech Allergy«, Kunstmuseum, Wolfsburg
1997 Holly Solomon Gallery, New York
Group exhibitions (selection)
1962 »Fluxus«, Internationale Festspiele Neuester Musik, Wiesbaden; Galerie Minami, Tokyo
1977 documenta VI, Kassel
1982 »Videokunst in Deutschland 1963-1982«, Kunstverein, Cologne, subsequently at Hamburger Kunsthalle, Hamburg, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe, Westfälischer Kunstverein, Münster; Munich, Nuremberg, Berlin
1987 documenta VIII, Kassel
1988 »The More The Better«, Olympische Spiele, Seoul
1989 »Video-Skulptur retrospektiv und aktuell 1963-89«, Kunstverein, Cologne, subsequently at Kongresshalle, Berlin; Kunsthaus, Zürich
1993 Biennale di Venezia, (German Pavilion, with Hans Haacke), Venice; »Mediale«, Deichtorhallen, Hamburg
1994 »Fluxus«, Kunsthalle, Basle
1995 3. Biennale de Lyon, Lyon; Biennale di Venezia, Venice
1996 »Mediascape«, Solomon R. Guggenheim; Museum SoHo, New York; »sonambiente«, Akademie der Künste, Berlin
1997 »Deep Storage«, Haus der Kunst, Munich; »Die Epoche der Moderne«, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; »Skulptur. Projekte in Münster 1997«, Münster

​[Katharina Raab, 1997]