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Unearthing Origins: The Use of Art, Archaeology, and Exhibitions in Creating Korean National Identity, 1945–1962

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The 1957 exhibition, Masterpieces of Korean Art, suggests that the promotion of Korean cultural artifacts as innate and inherent representations of Korean national pride is a relatively recent phenomenon with a traceable history. Curated by Alan Priest and Robert Paine, the show made its debut in Washington, DC, and toured the United States and Europe over a five-year period. Crafted with a Western audience in mind, Masterpieces nevertheless served many interrelated and competing constituencies. As the first large-scale exhibition of Korean artifacts sent abroad, the show became the battleground for the assertion of a specifically South Korean identity separate from its then recent history as a Japanese colony during the early part of the twentieth century.
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Keywords: Archaeology; Chewon Kim (1909–1990); Exhibition Theory; Japanese Art Exhibitions; Korean Art; Korean Art Exhibitions; Museum Studies; National Gallery of Art; National Identity; National Museum of Korea, Seoul

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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