Portrait of Lee Sam, 1751. Ink on silk.

First Major Show of Korean Portraiture in the US: ‘Likeness and Legacy’ [ Through 11/28]

“Likeness and Legacy in Korean Portraiture,” an exhibition of portrait paintings spanning from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) to the contemporary era, is being held at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco now through Nov. 28, 2021. This exhibition is the first major show of Korean portraiture to take place in the United States.

What was the role of portraiture in establishing identity and legacy in the Joseon dynasty? How do contemporary portraits navigate the boundary between the individual and the collective? Find out in this thought-provoking exhibition, which explores the deep history of portraiture in Korean culture.

“High School Uni-Face: Girl” (1997), left, “High School Uni-Face: Boy,” (1997) by Suh Do-ho 

Rare ink-on-paper drafts of portraits of Bunmu (renowned military) meritorious officials form the core of Likeness and Legacy in Korean Portraiture. The exhibition shares discoveries about these works that came to light during a 2012 conservation and subsequent study, including new findings about portraiture and artistic processes during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910).

The exhibition pairs these draft portraits on paper with a selection of finished paintings on silk and contemporary approaches to portraiture by Korean and Korean American artists. Photo-based, mixed-media, and video works by Korean artists Do Ho Suh and Yun Suknam, as well as Korean Americans Ahree Lee and Young June Lew, raise issues of conformity, group identity, and gender in the information age.

“What makes ‘Likeness and Legacy’ unique is that we move beyond a specific moment in time to pair traditional draft paintings with a selection of finished portraits on silk, as well as contemporary approaches to portraiture by Korean and Korean American artists,” the museum’s associate curator, Hyon-jeong Kim Han, said in a statement.

Asian Art Museum
200 Larkin St.
San Francisco, CA 94102


Thu:1 PM–8 PM

Fri–Mon:10 AM–5 PM


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