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Yongjin Han Sculpture

Yongjin Han was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1934. After the Korean War—in which he fought, lying about his age in order to enlist—he was one of six students admitted to the sculpture program at the Seoul National University. At the time of his enrollment little of his native city remained intact; nonetheless, he had never felt more responsible to his work, firm in the conviction that artistic expression is every bit as essential to life and human nature as eating, drinking, or breathing.

One of Han’s teachers was Kim Chong Yung, a pioneer of Korean abstract sculpture, and by the time of his graduation he had adopted the abstraction that had seized both Europe and the United States several years before. . In 1967 he relocated to the USA, where he studied at Dartmouth and Columbia.  Over the course of his long career the artist returned to Korea with frequency and made extended stays in Japan and Europe.

Trips to Korea signified something more than mere homesickness: Han’s work, though made largely in America, remained grounded in his rich cultural heritage. Korea rests on a bedrock of granite, and freestanding sculpture produced of the stone has for centuries demarcated sites of historical and religious significance. Han’s sculpture bridges this past with modernity. Richard A. Born, former Curator at the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago, has said that Han “brought Korea’s tradition of direct stone carving out of figuration into a refined, non-objective abstraction.”

For his part, Han put very little stock in designations; his focus, instead, was on the stone itself. His pieces explore a certain harmonization with nature. Han, when describing his work, said, "As stone has been around since the beginning of time, it has much to teach us if we care to slow down and listen." He believed that each stone has its own history, character, and energy and that his task was to draw out these inherently spiritual qualities. He described his process as a “dialogue” with his material: "The stone tells me it has an itch in a certain spot, so I scratch it—and we both feel better!"

Han worked alone and with manual tools, and the process is arduous. Carving stone this way takes time, and, what’s more, required great force—yet Han’s sculptures, even the monumental ones, are, as friend and fellow artist David Parker says, “all gentle grace and warmth” … [the sculptor] “engages with the stone as an equal—like wayfarers meeting on a path, Han and a stone spend time together and when they part, both are marked and changed forever.”

Yongjin Han's career spanned decades and continents, and included several prestigious large-scale public commissions. In Seoul his work can be found at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, the IE Young Museum of Contemporary Art, the Whanki Museum, the Ewha Woman’s University Museum, Posong High School, and the 88 Olympics Seonsu Village. His sculptures are held in a variety of public and private collections throughout the world, notably by the Herning Kunst Museum in Denmark; the Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago; and the Sculpture Park at City Hall, Redding, CA.


2016 Maison Gerard, New York 2012 Gallery Nori, Jeju, Korea 2007 2x13 Gallery, Seoul 1994 Hyundai Gallery, Seoul 1991 Blue Hill Art and Cultural Center, Pearl River, New York 1986 Thorpe Intermedia Gallery, Sparkill, New York 1984 Won Gallery, Seoul 1981 Bergen Community Museum, New Jersey USA 1966 Gallery of New Experimental College, Herning, Denmark, and 2023 at the Choi Sunu House, Seoul.

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2022 "Kim Whanki's New York Period with Yongjin Han and Miaie Moon." Gallery Hyundai, Seoul 2014 “Carved, Cast, Crumpled: Sculpture All Ways,” Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago 2012 “From the Land of the Morning Calm: Traditions of Korean Art,” Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, Chicago 2011 “Stone and Wind”, 2-person show with Jungjin Lee, Andrew Bae Gallery, Chicago 2009 “30th Anniversary Exhibition,” Gallery Korea, Korean Cultural Service, New York 2008 “In Memoriam: Moon Mi Ae,” Whanki Museum, Seoul 2007 “Erase the Old No. 2,” 3-person show, Yenar Gallery, Seoul           Asian Contemporary Art Fair (with 2x13 Gallery), New York 2006 “Honest Echo,” 2x13 Gallery, New York           4-person sculpture exhibition, Gallery Korea, Korean Cultural Service, New York           3-person permanent installation, IE Young Contemporary Art Museum, Yongin, Korea 2003 "Dreams & Reality: Celebrating 100 Years of Korean Immigration to USA," Smithsonian International Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 2001 “Erase the Old,” 3-person show, Yenar Gallery, Seoul Art Chicago (with Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Seoul), Chicago 2000 “Origins of Korean Contemporary Art,” National Museum of Contemporary Art, Korea           Group exhibition, Republic of Korea Mission to the United Nations, New York 1999 3-person show, Hyundai Gallery, Seoul 1997 “Fall/Winter Exhibition,” Grounds for Sculpture, Trenton, NJ USA 1995 2-person show with Nam June Paik, Sigma Gallery, New York          Korean Art Exhibition, UNESCO World Headquarters, Paris 1992 Korean American Exhibition, Korean Cultural Service, New York 1991 3-person exhibition, Blue Hill Cultural Center, Pearl River, NY, USA 1989 "Clock & Rock", 2-person show with Nam June Paik, La Galerie de Paris, Paris, France          Seoul Sculpture Society exhibition, Seoul 1987 Whanki Foundation Exhibition, Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris, France          Survey Exhibition, Hyundai Gallery, Seoul          Silla Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, Seoul 1986 Group exhibition, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul          "Korea-New York' 86", Thorpe Intermedia Gallery, Sparkill, NY, USA 1985 Group exhibition, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul          5-person exhibition, Gallery Du Son, Seoul 1983 "FIAC 83", 2-person exhibition with Kim Whanki, Pointdexter Gallery, Paris, France 1982 10th International Stone Sculpture Invitational Symposium, Iwateken, Japan          Warner Communications Gallery, New York          New York 32nd Street Gallery, New York 1981 Bergen County Museum, Paramus, NJ, USA         Stone Sculpture Society of New York, Standard Oil Gallery, New York 1980 Stone Sculpture Society of New York, Searles Castle, Great Barrington, MA, USA 1979 "Art Expo' 79", with Whanki Foundation, New York 1963 7th Sao Paolo Biennial, Brazil          "Five Artists Print Show", National Museum of Korea, Seoul 1961 National Art Exhibition, Seoul (Special Recognition) 1954 Student Art Conference, Hongik University, Seoul (top prize) 1949 First National Art Exhibition, Seoul


2008 Kim Chong-hak outdoor sculpture park (private), Korea 2006 Sculpture Park at City Hall, Redding CA USA – commissioned by Dr. Jae-hyun Moon 2000 IE-YOUNG Contemporary Art Museum, Yongin, Korea (9 outdoor works) 1990 “Commemoration Stone of Poet Yi Sang,” Boseong High School, Seoul 1988 88 Olympics Seonsu Village Apartments, Seoul 1987 “Black Stone in the Night,” National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul 1986 Mural for subway station, Pusan, Korea 1982 Portrait sculpture of Commodore Robert Wilson Shufeldt, to commemorate the centennial anniversary of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Korea, Incheon, Korea 1975 Grave marker, artist Kim Whanki, New York 1966 Outdoor sculptures, Herning Kunsmuseum, Herning, Denmark 1964 Outdoor sculpture, Woosuk Hospital, Seoul


1995 9th Kim Saejung Sculpture Prize, Kim Saejung Cultural Foundation, Seoul 1965 Invitee, contemporary art workshop, Herning, Denmark (sponsored by Aage Damgarrd). 53 works entered collection of Herning Kunst Museum following its 1981 establishment. 1963 Institute of International Education – invitation to USA

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