A mesmerizing riot of sights and sounds, Nam June Paik brings together more than 200 works by the visionary experimental artist who bridged art, music, performance, and technology in groundbreaking ways, and whose influence is still felt in the art, pop culture, music, and film of today.
One of the first truly global and transnational artists, Paik foresaw the importance of mass media and new technologies, coining the phrase ‘electronic superhighway’ in 1974 to predict the future of communication in an internet age. This exhibition — the artist’s first-ever West Coast retrospective — celebrates Paik’s collaborative approach that transcended genres and traditions, while also highlighting the artist’s innovative, playful, and profoundly radical work.
The “Father of Video Art”
Widely considered the “father of video art,” Nam June Paik (1932–2006) was born in what is now South Korea and spent much of his life in Japan, Germany, and the United States. The playfully rebellious artist trained as a classical composer; he sought to radically expand the parameters of art and defied genres and disciplines. Over his five-decade career, he worked with avant-garde artists and pop stars alike, and created groundbreaking video art, immersive installations, a family of TV robots, live broadcasts, participatory artworks, and more. Paik was a true and oftentimes humorous visionary who foresaw the importance of mass media and technology. “Someday,” he said in 1965, “artists will work with capacitors, resistors, and semi-conductors as they work today with brushes, violins, and junk.”
Nam June Paik, on view through October 3, 2021, is the first West Coast retrospective dedicated to the artist and brings together more than 200 of his works. Below, find a guide to five that serve as entry points to his career, selected by Curator of Media Arts Rudolf Frieling and Assistant Curator of Media Arts Andrea Nitsche-Krupp.
Watch online guided tour:
See in Person at the SFMOMA
Nam June Paik