International Symposium "Korean Art in the West: Tracing Objects from Creation to Collection" (26-27 June 2019)

General information

The symposium will take place at the University of Zurich on 

Wednesday, 26th and Thursday, 27th June 2019 in room RAA-G-01
(Aula, Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zurich)

The symposium is free and open to the public, no prior registration is necessary. 

Most presentations will be held in English. For presentations held in other languages English translations will be provided. 

For questions, please contact the Section for East Asian Art:

Symposium abstract

A two-day international symposium Korean Art in the West: Tracing Objects from Creation to Collection will take place at the University of Zurich, Switzerland on 26th-27th June 2019. This symposium will feature leading and emerging scholars from Korea, Japan, Switzerland, the USA, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and Sweden specialising in Korean art history. 

Objects from East Asia can be found in many museums and private collections throughout the world. Objects of art travel, change ownership and acquire new meanings and functions. Sometimes they are subjects of evaluations and victims of cultural clichés. Igor Kopytoff in his seminal essay “The Cultural Biography of Things” proposes to treat objects as living beings with distinct biographies and suggests a number of questions pertinent to their study: what were the circumstances and purposes of the production of the objects, how do the objects move and change in contexts of reception and use (Kopytoff 1986: 66). 

The symposium aims to represent various case studies of Korean art in the West to create an overview of the state of research and methodologies in the field. It seeks to explore the trajectories of movement of Korean art in the past centuries and its reception outside of Korea. Our focus lies on the collecting practices, museum displays and cultural mediation, appropriations and uses of Korean art in the West, and on the comparative perspectives on similar processes in Korea. 

The symposium is planned as part of a larger research project that includes an exhibition at the Historical and Ethnological Museum in St. Gallen entitled "Poesie der Farben" (“The Poetry of Colours”, held at the Historical and Ethnological Museum in St. Gallen, 2nd Sept 2017–10th June 2018), which was co-organised by the University of Zurich. The origin of this project lies in the efforts to include Korea more deeply in the study of East Asian art. Another purpose is to encourage further academic studies in Korean art, history and culture at the university level. 

As the first symposium of its kind in bringing together Korean art scholars to Switzerland, it attempts to give a deeper insight into the collections of Korean art in Switzerland and other countries as well as to open a new field of public and academic interest in the study of Korea. The symposium can be seen as a keystone in Korean art studies in Switzerland. Furthermore, it seeks to make Korean art accessible to a wider audience and so to raise public interest and awareness of Korean art and culture. The symposium serves to illustrate the long-standing relations between Switzerland and Korea, and aims to reinforce these connections for the future. 

Symposium program, Wednesday 26th June

9:30 – 10:00      Registration for speakers

10:00 – 10:15    Welcome from the University of Zurich (UZH) Organizers
Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen (Section for East Asian Art, UZH)
                          with Natasha Fischer-Vaidya, PhD Candidate (Section for East
                          Asian Art, UZH)

10:15 – 12:15    Panel 1: Collectors and Collections, I 
                          Chair: Sabine Bradel, PhD Candidate, Section for East Asian
                          Art (UZH)

10:15 – 10:55    Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen, University of Zurich
                          Travelling Bowls: Social Lives of Korean Ceramics
                          Abstract (PDF, 19 KB)

10:55 – 11:35    Prof. Dr. Jeong-hee Lee-Kalisch, Free University of Berlin
                          A Semiotic Narrative Investigation on a Goryeo Illuminated
                          Manuscript: The Dae Banggwangbul Hwaeomgyeong (Avatamsaka
                          sūtra), Vol. 72, in the New York Public Library

                          Abstract (PDF, 33 KB)

11:35 – 12:15    Prof. Seinosuke Ide, Kyushu University
                          Korean Paintings Amidst "Chinese-Style Paintings": Japanese
                          Reception and International Circulation of Paintings of Peninsular
                          Abstract (PDF, 24 KB)

12:15 – 14:00    Lunch Break

14:00 – 15:20    Panel 2: Receptions of Korean Art in the Museum Context
                          Chair: Dr. Alban von Stockhausen, Curator, Bern Historical Museum 

14:00 – 14:40    Dr. Ariane Perrin, The Centre for Studies on China, Korea and Japan,
                          UMR 8173
                          Shamanic Paintings of Chosŏn Korea: Tracing History from
                          Collections back to Sacred Ritual Objects

                          Abstract (PDF, 22 KB)

14:40 – 15:20   Dr. Patricia Frick, Curator, Museum of Lacquer Art, Muenster
                         Refined Craftsmanship and Exquisite Beauty – Goryeo Lacquer     
                          Artefacts in Western Collections

                          Abstract (PDF, 23 KB)

15:20 – 16:00    Coffee Break

16:00 – 16:30    Welcoming Speeches
                          Prof. Dr. Michael Hengartner (President, University of Zurich)
                          His Excellency, Ambassador Kwon Haeryong (Embassy of the
                          Republic of Korea)

16:30 – 17:20    Keynote Speech
                          Dr. Eleanor Hyun, Curator of Korean Art, British Museum
                          Contexts: Korean Art and the British Museum
                          Abstract (PDF, 25 KB)                     

17:20 ~              Reception, Lichthof, Rämistrasse 59, 8001 Zürich

Symposium program, Thursday 27th June

10:00 – 12:00   Panel 3: Arts of the Goryeo and Joseon Periods
                         Chair: Rosa Jiyun Kim, PhD Candidate, Section for East Asian Art,

10:00 – 10:40   Prof. Dr. Em. Sunpyo Hong, Director, Center for Art Studies, Korea
                         The Export of Korean Genre Paintings to the West in the Era of
                         Port Openings: Representations of "Korean People" in the Collections
                         of Western Powers (in Korean with English translation as a handout).
                         Abstract (PDF, 26 KB)

10:40 – 11:20   Prof. Dr. Namwon Jang, Ewha Womans University
                         The Characteristics of Korean Ceramics Collected by the West in
                         Modern Times

                         Abstract (PDF, 28 KB)

11:20 – 12:00   Prof. Dr. Woothak Chung, Dongguk University
                         Painting of Water-Moon Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva in the Museo
                         d'Arte Orientale Edoardo Chiossone in Genova, Italy
(in Korean with
                         English translation as a handout)
                         Abstract (PDF, 20 KB)

12:00 – 13:30   Lunch Break

13:30 – 14:50   Panel 4: Korean Art in the Modern and Contemporary Period
                         Chair: Prof. Dr. Hans Bjarne Thomsen, University of Zurich

13:30 – 14:10   Prof. Dr. Sunglim Kim, Dartmouth University
                         The Evolution of "Landscape Painting (Sansuhwa)" in Contemporary
                         Korean Art 

                         Abstract    (PDF, 32 KB)                      

14:10 – 14:50   Prof. Dr. Nancy Lin, Lawrence University
                         Exhibitions Abroad: Promoting a Master Narrative of Korean Art in
                         the Postwar Period

                         Abstract (PDF, 21 KB)

14:50 – 15:30   Coffee Break

15:30 – 18:10   Panel 5: Collectors and Collections, II
                         Chair: Alina Martimyanova, PhD Candidate, Section for East
                         Asian Art, UZH

15:30 – 16:10   Dr. Hyojin Lee, Heidelberg University
                         Arts, Diplomacy and History: Cultural Exchanges between Korea and

                         Abstract (PDF, 25 KB)

16:10 – 16:50   Isabelle Leemann, Museum Coordinator, Museum of World Cultures,
                         Stockholm and
                         Michel Lee, Curator, Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Stockholm
                         Tangible Memories and Intertwined Histories: Sweden-Korea
                         Relations as Seen through the Collection of the Museum of Far
                         Eastern Antiquities

                         Abstract (PDF, 20 KB)

16:50 – 17:30   Rosa Jiyun Kim, PhD Candidate, Section for East Asian
                         Art, University of Zurich
                         Collaborative Publications and Early Swiss Receptions of Korean
                         Abstract (PDF, 37 KB)

17:30 – 18:10   Natasha Fischer-Vaidya, PhD Candidate, Section for East Asian Art,
                         University of Zurich
                         Swiss Collectors of Korean Art: Dr. Paul Ritter and Dr. Heinrich von

                         Abstract (PDF, 22 KB)

18:10 – 18:20   Presentation by the Korea Foundation       

18:45 ~             Dinner for speakers and staff

The symposium is organized by the Section for East Asian Art, University of Zurich and is supported by the Korea Foundation and the University of Zurich Foundation (Hochschulstiftung). The organizers also thank the Bern Historical Museum for their kind permission to use the image for the conference.

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