Nam June Paik, Untitled, 1998, acrylic on canvas, 67 × 46 inches (170.2 × 116.8 cm) © Nam June Paik Estate. Photo by Ben Blackwell
Born in Korea and living and working internationally, Nam June Paik brought television into the realm of art for the first time and treated it as a tactile and multisensory medium. Trained as a classical pianist, his early interests in composition and performance combined with his radical aesthetic tendencies brought him into contact with protagonists of the counter–culture and avant–garde movements of the 1960s, including Fluxus. Such engagement profoundly shaped his outlook at a time when electronic images were becoming increasingly present in everyday life. He embraced new technologies as material parts of his repertoire, which later included satellite transmissions, robots, and lasers. In 1974 Paik coined the term “electronic superhighway” to describe the exponential growth of new forms of communication. His installations, performances, and writings contributed to the creation of a media–based culture that expanded the very definition and aesthetic possibilities of making art.
Nam June Paik was born in 1932 in Seoul, South Korea, and died in 2006 in Miami, Florida. He graduated in 1956 from the University of Tokyo, Japan, and continued his studies from 1956 to 1958 at Munich University, Germany, and Freiburg Conservatory, Germany. Recent solo exhibitions include “The Worlds of Nam June Paik,” Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2000, traveled to Hoam Museum, Seoul); “Il giocoliere elettronico, Nam June Paik e l'invenzione della videoarte,” Palazzo Cavour, Italy (2002); “Nam June Paik, Fluxus und Video Skulptur,” Wilhelm–Lehmbruck Museum, Germany (2002); National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2004); “Global Groove,” Deutsche Guggenheim, Berlin (2004); “Olympe de Gouges,” Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris à la Maison de la Radio France, Paris (2005); “Paik on Paper,” Kunstmuseum Bochum, Germany (2006); Orange County Museum of Art, California (2006); “In memoriam,” Museum of Modern Art, New York (2006); “Bye Bye, Nam June Paik,” The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2006); China Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (2009); Museum Kunstpalast, Dusseldorf (2010); Tate Liverpool, England (2010); Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, England (2010); “In the Tower: Nam June Paik,” The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2011); “Global Visionary,” Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C. (2012–13); and “Becoming Robot,” Asia Society, New York (2014–15). Representing Germany, Paik and Hans Haacke were awarded a Golden Lion in 1993 at the 45th La Biennale di Venezia.