Flowering Plums and Curio Cabinets
The Culture of Objects in Late Chosŏn Korean Art
- PUBLISHED: December 2018
- SUBJECT LISTING: Art History / Asian Art, Asian Studies / Korea
- BIBLIOGRAPHIC INFORMATION: 304 Pages, 7 x 10 in, 80 color illus., 18 b&w illus., 1 map
- SERIES: Korean Studies of the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies
- ISBN: 9780295743417
The social and economic rise of the chungin class (“middle people” who ranked between the yangban aristocracy and commoners) during the late Chosŏn period (1700–1910) ushered in a world of materialism and commodification of painting and other art objects. Generally overlooked in art history, the chungin contributed to a flourishing art market, especially for ch’aekkori, a new form of still life painting that experimented with Western perspective and illusionism, and a reimagined style of the traditional plum blossom painting genre.
Sunglim Kim examines chungin artists and patronage of the visual arts, and their commercial transactions, artistic exchange with China and Japan, and historical writings on art. She also explores the key role of men of chungin background in preserving Korean art heritage in the tumultuous twentieth century, including the work of the modern Korean collector and historian O Se-ch’ang, who memorialized many chungin painters and calligraphers.
Revealing a vivid picture of a complex art world,Flowering Plums and Curio Cabinets presents a major reconsideration of late Chosŏn society and its material culture. Lushly illustrated, it will appeal to scholars of Korea and East Asia, art history, visual culture, and social history.
A William Sangki and Nanhee Min Hahn Book
Art History Publication Initiative. For more information, visit http://arthistorypi.org/books/flowering-plums-and-curio-cabinets
Authors & Contributors
Sunglim Kim is associate professor of art history at Dartmouth College.
Deeply researched and written in a scholarly but engaging style, the book breaks new ground in Korean art history, counteracting the dominant role of the yangban in earlier studies. Kim's book is a welcome addition to recent monographs and exhibition catalogues on Korean art history.- Choice
Richly detailed, comprehensively resourced, and meticulously researched . . . call[s] into question existing narratives on Chosŏn painting by reading artworks in consideration of their collective agency and their roles in negotiating values, taste, and status at a critical historical juncture. [Flowering Plums and Curio Cabinets] will hence contribute significantly to the literature and ultimately enrich scholarly discussion of early modernity in East Asia.- Journal of Asian Studies
[C]omprehensive analyses of the late Chosŏn dynasty...Kim's Flowering Plums and Curio Cabinets boldly presents the academic possibility that the artworks and cultural objects of late Chosŏn Korea can be examined through visual and cultural studies.- European Journal of Korean Studies
Kim’s scholarship makes an important addition to understandings of late Chosǒn arts and culture and is a must-read volume for students and researchers alike.- Asian Affairs: An American Review
Kim’s bold and imaginative interpretations offer a strong corrective to the dominant art-historical narrative that has privileged the role of the yangban aristocracy over the chungin. An important and groundbreaking contribution to the growing body of scholarly literature on Korean art history.- Charles Lachman, author of A Way with Words: The Calligraphic Art of Jung Do-jun
Provides a large amount of important information on Korean social and art history of the late eighteenth through early twentieth centuries.- Burglind Jungmann, author of Pathways to Korean Culture: Paintings of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392–1910
Kim immerses the reader in the Korean consumer culture driven by a class of people known as chungin, or middle people, from 1700 through the early twentieth century. Challenging familiar art-historical narratives, this remarkable book illuminates the critical roles played by chungin as creators, consumers, and taste makers. Flowering Plums and Curio Cabinets is essential reading for anyone interested in the rich and multifaceted cultural life of Korea on the cusp of modernization.- Marsha Haufler, professor emerita, University of Kansas