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Lecture: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Abstraction

January 26, 2017
Price Auditorium
Free with museum admission*

Histories of modern and contemporary art often celebrate abstraction for its utopian presumptions. In many parts of East and Southeast Asia, these presumptions coincided with unbridled aspirations for a cosmopolitan life, particularly in the contested years of decolonization, postwar reconstruction, and authoritarian regime building that marked the years from roughly 1950 to 1980.

For artists like Kim Lim, Li Yuan Chia, Ha Chonghyun, Mario Yrissary, Susan de la Rosa Aragon, and Jung Tak-young, abstraction was viewed as a means of working around geopolitical and social divisions at a time when national, racial, and ideological divisions were particularly stark. Abstraction became a way of envisioning a world based on the free give-and-take of intellectual and psychological resources.

Joan Kee, University of Michigan, is a specialist in the modern and contemporary art of East and Southeast Asia. Her recent publications include Contemporary Korean Art: Tansaekhwa and the Urgency of Method (2013). A former attorney, she has also published extensively on issues of art law. 

*Museum admission is free for Illinois residents during this event and every Thursday 5:00–8:00. 

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Chung Sang-Hwa. Untitled 72-12-A, 1972. Through prior purchase from the Mary and Leigh Block Fund.