Spice_Korean Arts.pdf - handout 2 KOREAN ARTS Introduction...

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104 © SPICE handout 2 K OREAN A RTS Introduction The study of Korean art is fairly new in the West. For centuries, the study and collection of East Asian art has focused on the art of China and Japan because the arts of Korea were not as accessible to Westerners until recently. The inaccessibility of Korean arts has been due to a number of factors, including Korea’s isolation from the West and ongoing, internal turmoil on the Korean peninsula. Rapid development and economic growth in South Korea has allowed for more investment in Korean art and archeological research and in establishing Korean art collections. 1 Korea’s geographic location and close proximity to China and Japan have greatly affected its art and architecture. Korea has played a significant role in the cultural and artistic exchange in East Asia. Buddhism, Confucianism, the Chinese writing system, ceramic techniques, landscape painting, and architectural styles were all adopted from China. Korean artists quickly adapted Chinese artistic concepts to appeal to the Korean aesthetic, and then transmitted them to Japan in many cases. While Korean artists borrowed heavily from their neighbors, over time they developed their own distinct style and techniques. Korean art is often distinctive in its simplicity and purity, harmony with nature, and a sense of spontaneity and movement. The desire to accept nature and adapt to it has inspired Korean artists to bring out the natural qualities of the materials used rather than to achieve a perfect shape or surface. Korean arts are often asymmetrical, particularly with ceramics and architecture of the Joseon Period. Korean artists have traditionally avoided extremes in shape, design, and color to create art with a subtle effect. Korean Art and Architecture Throughout History Three Kingdoms Period (57 BCE–668 CE) During the Three Kingdoms Period, monks from China spread Buddhism to the Korean Peninsula. The Goguryeo Kingdom was the first to adopt the new religion in 372, due to its proximity to China. Goguryeo kings commissioned the production of Buddhist arts, such as statues, paintings, and temples. Buddhism later spread to the Baekje Kingdom and lastly to the Silla Kingdom. Buddhism inspired new artistic styles, themes, and motifs; and its influence is prevalent in Korean arts and architecture from the sixth century onward. 2 The early influence of Buddhism can be seen in art from royal tombs from the Goguryeo Kingdom. Excavation of the Goguryeo tombs revealed the earliest examples of Korean painting in the form or wall murals. The murals provide insight into in the Three Kingdoms Period through the portrayal of scenes of everyday life and hunting, images of the deceased,
KOREAN CULTURE 105 handout 2 architectural designs, and Buddhist and other religious themes. Goguryeo tomb paintings influenced early art in the Baekje and Silla kingdoms as well as throughout East Asia.

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