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Pioneering Korean Modernist Yoo Youngkuk Will Get His New York Debut, Finally

2 min read  ·  15 Apr 2023

Yoo Youngkuk, Work, 1968. Photo Chunho An/Yoo Youngkuk Art Foundation

Yoo Youngkuk, a trending artist on HENI News, was one of the most influential artists of modern Korea whose geometric abstract paintings in bold colors combine echoes of traditional Korean art forms and references to the country’s mountainous landscape.

There has been a growing interest in Yoo's work outside Korea, where his status as one of its Modern masters was confirmed in 2016 with a major show at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, to mark the centenary of his birth. His work remains little-known abroad, however, although that looks set to change with representation by a prestigious international gallery.

Yoo's HENI Score has increased by an impressive 137% after the announcement of a partnership between Pace Gallery and PKM, one of Seoul's leading galleries. They will jointly represent the artist’s estate. Pace is due to present Yoo’s first solo exhibition outside of Korea at its flagship gallery in New York in fall 2023. To follow the artist, see Yoo Youngkuk's HENI Dashboard.

The artist, who died in 2002 at the age of 86, led an eventful life. ARTNews's Seoul-based contributor Andrew Russeth suggested Yoo deserves a biopic. He came of age during the occupation of Korea by Imperial Japan, studied art in Tokyo as a young man and mixed in its avant-garde circles. Although Yoo created radical works in the 1930s, he was only able to fully devote himself to painting after the Korean War. He had his first solo show aged 49 in 1964.

In the past two years, his auction market sales have totaled $7.05m. Yoo's work often appears at auction in Korea, for example a 1964 painting sold for $824,600 at Seoul Auction in Hong Kong. Another piece, executed in 1980, sold for $269,300 at K Auction in Seoul. In addition, one of his works from 1982 sold for $121,300 at Seoul Auction Online. All sold for their estimates.