Exhibition — 14 Mar until 23 Aug 2020

In collaboration with Tate Modern and San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Stedelijk Museum presents a major retrospective of Nam June Paik, one of the most visionary and influential pioneers of early video art. Paik’s multidisciplinary, radical, experimental and playful work continues to inspire a new generation of artists.

Born in South Korea, Nam June Paik (1932, Korea-USA, 2006) grew up in Japan, studied music in Germany and collaborated in Fluxus, an international network of avant-garde artists. Paik predicted the power of mass media to shape our lives and introduced the term “electronic superhighway” to foretell the future of communication in an internet age. Paik erased the boundaries between art and technology, between East and West, and investigated technology’s impact on globalization and everyday life.

Paik’s oeuvre spans a prodigious number of disciplines: video, sculpture, music, dance and performance. The exhibition highlights his collaborations with other artists such as composer John Cage, choreographer Merce Cunningham, cellist Charlotte Moorman and artist Joseph Beuys.

The Stedelijk’s relationship with Nam June Paik dates back to 1977 when the museum mounted his first major show in the Netherlands. In 1984 Paik also took part in The Luminous Image, an international exhibition of contemporary video art, with the video installation Homage to Stanley Brouwn (1984). An iconic installation from the Stedelijk collection is TV-Buddha (1974), in which an 18th-century wooden Buddha appears to ‘watch’ itself on a modern television, and typifies the influence of (Zen) Buddhist philosophies on Paik’s approach to art and technology.

Nam June Paik, The Mongolian Tent, 1993. LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Westfälisches (Munster, Germany) © Estate of Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik, The Mongolian Tent, 1993. LWL-Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte Westfälisches (Munster, Germany) © Estate of Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik, TV-Buddha, 1974. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Nam June Paik, TV-Buddha, 1974. Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Photo: Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
Nam June Paik, TV Garden, 1974-1977 (2002). Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf © Estate of Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik, TV Garden, 1974-1977 (2002). Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf © Estate of Nam June Paik

This is the most comprehensive and ambitious retrospective of Nam June Paik to be staged in years bringing Paik’s visionary works together at the Stedelijk for the first time in four decades. The Future is Now takes a definitive look at the artist’s interdisciplinary oeuvre and features two spectacular room-filling installations: TV Garden of 1974-77, where television sets seem to flourish among abundant foliage, and Sistine Chapel of 1993, the iconic culmination of the exhibition in the Hall of Honour, a sensory inundation of sound and images from 34 projectors, for which Paik received the prestigious Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale in 1993.

Paik wanted people to interact with art, which is why the exhibition also includes works in which visitors can participate by physically manipulating the artwork.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue.

The survey will tour to five international venues; Tate Modern, London, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and National Gallery Singapore.

The exhibition is made possible by the Terra Foundation for American Art.

Credits 

The exhibition is organised by Tate Modern, London and San Francisco Museum of Modern in collaboration with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Curated by Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Research Curator, Tate and Rudolf Frieling, Curator of Media Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in collaboration with Leontine Coelewij, Curator Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.