Lee Seung-taek

  • Born 1932 in Kowon, Korea (now North Korea)

A noted artist in sculpture, installation, environmental, and performance art, Lee Seung-taek fled to South Korea during the Korean War (1950–53). He began drawing portraits of American soldiers at this time and continued after the conflict. In the mid-1950s, he began working with nonmaterial substances such as smoke, wind, and fire after seeing a spindly figurative sculpture by Alberto Giacometti (1901–1966) and a Saudi Arabian oil-burning furnace on television. Lee Seung-taek received an art degree from Hongik University, Seoul, in 1959. As a student he created his first works with Godret stones, traditionally used for tying off strands of weaving, suspended on cords from a horizontal bar. For his graduate exhibition in 1958 he showed Yeogsawa Sigan (History and Time), a plaster object wrapped in barbed wire and spattered with red and blue—the colors of both communism and democracy. Other early works include Glass (1969), a type of inoculation for a tree, and Jong-i Namu (Paper Tree; 1970), an installation of shredded paper hanging from branches. His works have addressed the human body, sexuality, and political strife. Early in his career he showed in the 1969 Paris Biennale and the 1970 Bienal de São Paulo.

Artworks by Lee Seung-taek in the exhibition