Yoo Youngkuk: Quintessence

This is the first comprehensive monograph on master artist Yoo Youngkuk, one of Korea's most popular modernists and considered a "magician of colors."

Yoo Youngkuk was born and raised in the remote hinterlands of Uljin, South Korea. In the 1930s, he left to study art in Japan and returned to Korea in 1943 amid the turmoil of the Pacific War, when he earned a living as a fisherman and liquor maker while continuing to paint. After 1955, he resumed his art practice in earnest, leading many early avant-garde groups and lecturing. His works later brought him national recognition, drawing much praise from critics and the public alike. From the 1960s onward, he withdrew from group activities and devoted himself entirely to working in his studio, exhibiting every two years. Yoo's unique compositional approach and formal techniques uncovered a prototype of nature in color palettes and geometric forms. His unshakable belief in the power of abstraction formulated an enduring modernist view of civilization and history.

Showcased for the first time in this beautiful book, his seminal works embody the core philosophy of Korean identity and "national art." Reminiscent of the deep waters, rugged mountains, fertile valleys, and brilliant sun of his Uljin hometown, Yoo's powerful aesthetic draws viewers into his quintessence of nature in a directly emotional way.

About The Author

Gabriel Ritter is head of contemporary art at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA), USA. Kim In-Hye is a curator at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Korea. Bartomeu Mari is the former director of the MMCA in Korea and currently the executive director of the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI) in Peru.

  • Publish Date: December 01, 2020
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Category: Art - Individual Artists - Monographs
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Trim Size: 9-7/8 x 11-7/8
  • Pages: 360
  • US Price: $135.00
  • CDN Price: $180.00
  • ISBN: 978-88-918261-6-9


"Yoo, who died in 2002 at the age of 86, is a canonical artist in Korea’s postwar art history, a status confirmed by a 2016 survey at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (MMCA) in Seoul on the centennial of his birth. But he remains little-known abroad. He has never had a solo show outside South Korea, and his radiant, sometimes mysterious paintings have appeared in group shows beyond its borders only sparingly. Blessedly, though, a sumptuous new monograph from Rizzoli with illuminating essays is an occasion for everyone to catch up." — ART NEWS

Author Bookshelf: Rosa Maria Falvo