Enormous Multisensory Exhibition “Nam June Paik” To Arrive May 8 At SFMOMA

Arianna Gary Arianna Gary

Enormous Multisensory Exhibition “Nam June Paik” To Arrive May 8 At SFMOMA

The exhibition will be the first major presentation of Paik’s work in the U.S. in over two decades.

Starting next week, SFMOMA will present a massive exhibition of artist and visionary Nam June Paik. The exhibition will be on view from May 8 through October 3 and, according to a press release, will be exclusive to SFMOMA in the U.S. 

Set to feature more than 200 of his most iconic works, the exhibition will give visitors a thorough look into the artist’s extensive career, which spanned five decades. An important trailblazer in the art world (and the world in general), Nam June Paik (1932–2006) is considered the father of video art, having been the first to incorporate both TVs and video into his quirky installations. He predicted the significance of mass media in a major way, and even coined the term ‘electronic superhighway’ in 1974 to describe the future of communication in the internet age.

Nam June Paik, Sistine Chapel, 1993 (installation view, SFMOMA); courtesy the Estate of Nam June Paik; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Andria Lo

The Nam June Paik exhibition will include some of the artist’s most famous installations, including TV Buddha (1974), TV Garden (1974–77/2002) and even a partially restaged version of his debut solo exhibition, Exposition of Music – Electronic Television (1963).

Nam June Paik, TV Garden, 1974–77/2002 (installation view, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Peter Tijhuis

Also on the docket is the world-renowned Sistine Chapel (1993), a total explosion of sight and sound coming from dozens of projectors aimed at the walls and ceiling. The display, which won the prestigious Golden Lion award at the Venice Biennale in 1993, is being recreated by SFMOMA in its largest scale yet and will in fact be the largest installation in the exhibition.

Timm Rautert, Nam June Paik lying among televisions, Zürich, 1991; © Timm Rautert

Many works will also underscore Paik’s collaboration with fellow creators throughout his career, like John Cage Robot II (1995) and Merce / Digital (1988), giant video sculptures that look like robots, made from several cabinets and TV sets.

Nam June Paik was born in Seoul and lived in Japan, Germany and the U.S., giving him a borderless worldview that is very apparent in his work. His installations are known for being playful, experimental and interactive, making for a unique experience and connection to the art world.

This exhibit is definitely going on our spring to-do list! Don’t miss its debut on May 8 at SFMOMA.


[Featured image: Nam June Paik, Sistine Chapel, 1993 (installation view, Tate); courtesy the Estate of Nam June Paik; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Andrew Dunkley © Tate]