Nam June Paik

Nam June Paik (Korea, 1932-2006) was an American-Korean artist widely credited as the founder of video art. “I want to shape the TV screen canvas as precisely as Leonardo, as freely as Picasso, as colorfully as Renoir, as profoundly as Mondrian, as violently as Pollock, and as lyrically as Jasper Johns,” he declared in his 1969 manifesto.

Born on July 20, 1932 in Seoul, Korea, he moved with his family to Japan at an early age, going on to study classical piano at the University of Tokyo. Later moving to Germany, he met the musicians John Cage and Karl Stockhausen, as well as the artists George Maciunas and Joseph Beuys. For his first solo show, “Exposition of Music-Electronic Television,” held at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, he used magnets to alter or distort multiple television screens.

It was in 1964 in New York that he first began combining his visual and musical interests together. Collaborating with cellist Charlotte Moorman, he created one of his most influential works, TV Cello (1971), a performance piece which transformed a stack of televisions into a musical instrument. The artist was the recipient of several awards, including the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion in 1994 and the Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award in 2001. He died on January 29, 2006 in Miami, FL. Today, Paik’s works are held in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, and the Reina Sofia National Museum in Madrid, among others.