National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Special Exhibition of Donated Works: 2010-2018
Special Exhibition of Donated Works displays artwork donated to the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) since 2010 that were previously unreleased or rarely exhibited, as an opportunity to meditate upon the meaning and value of the act of donation.
A museum’s collection is a crucial reflection of its identity. The MMCA collects its artwork through direct purchase, donation, and change of management. When the museum purchases artwork, it conducts investigation and research in accordance with its collection policy and direction prior to the planned acquisition, whereas donated artwork are generally presented through the goodwill of the donor and acquired separately to the museum’s collection policy. Such donations allow the museum to overcome its budgetary limitations. The museum makes committed efforts toward elevating the value of its collection and making its contributions to art history by investigating and researching donated works, reinterpreting their historical significance, and introducing them to the public.
As of April 2018, donated works at the MMCA amount to 3,765 pieces, or 46 percent of its total collection of 8,140 pieces. Since 2010, the MMCA has received 810 pieces of artwork, which amounts to 22 percent of its total collection. Through research on its collection in recent years, culminating in exhibitions such as Collection Highlights and Special Exhibition of Donated Works, the museum has studied a variety of themes to review the development of modern and contemporary art in Korea since the 20th century, and continued to highlight the oeuvres of the artists who have made significant donations of their works. This exhibition introduces to the public as many as 70 works including previously unreleased works that were recently donated, in the form of a report exhibition with a focus on understanding and appreciating of each piece.
This exhibition largely consists of two sections. The first section features traditional Korean paintings, Western paintings, drawings, and prints that deal with themes such as humankind and nature, and urban landscapes. Reinterpreted and expressed from the artists’ point of view, over 40 works on display provide a glimpse into the society at the time. The photography section, which accounts for the largest proportion of donated works, presents about 30 pieces by 20 photographers who have become a part of the modern and contemporary history of photography in Korea. From documentary photos recording a slice of everyday life to pictures capturing contemporary society and cultural phenomena from a critical point of view, and to photos produced by creating or rearranging a specific situation through artistic language, this section exhibits experimental works in a variety of forms.
The family of the late Choi Gyebok, a representative modern photographer from Daegu, Korea, has recently donated original photos and films produced by Choi in the 1930s to the MMCA. The museum plans to carefully curate and selectively release digital prints of some of his original photos and highlight the photographic art of Choi Gyebok along with the museum’s entire collection of received works and relevant materials.
Nearly half of the museum’s collection are composed of received works. We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the artists and donors who willingly donated the precious fruits of their own oeuvre and lifelong efforts, and hope that our donors’ meaningful contributions will resonate with art lovers and further invigorate the culture of donation.