I don't know art, but I know what makes my water.
February 8, 2010 8:14 PM   Subscribe

Art-sleuthery, part 943: Lithograph, possibly by Nam June Paik, with some Asian (Korean, if Paik) writing on it. Any ideas?

This piece has been in my mom's closet over two decades. She recalls it being by Nam June Paik (obviously known for his video art, but he did some very occasional print work, apparently). The piece was given to my father by Paik for some work that they did together.

The piece depicts two wild circles framed with horizontal lines on the top and bottom, with some Asian writing on the left. What appear to be two signatures, presumably of the same person, appear in light blue crayon on the bottom, in Asian writing on the left and western script on the right.

The piece is triple-printed--i.e., the litho plate was impressed three times, offset about 5 mm each time. This makes the piece almost uncomfortable to look at, honestly--it's very destabilizing and you feel dizzy. The photos are, in fact, in focus--it's just this weird moire effect.

Does anyone have any idea what this is/who it's by/what the writing says/what it might be worth? I have no intention of selling it (or looking at it, ow), but it's part of my family history and I'd like to make sure it's stored properly.
posted by Admiral Haddock to Media & Arts (2 answers total)
It's hard to tell from pictures, so while IAAPE (I am a print expert), IANYPE ;) Having said that, it looks more like an etching than a lithograph -- how did you identify the medium (your language is rather mixed -- photos? -- on this point)? The signature looks similar to other examples of Paik's signature, although rounder and less distinct. Paik has done quite a lot of printmaking, in a variety of media ranging from intaglio to litho to screenprint, so that also leaves the question open.

The subject matter is Paik-like in the sense that the misalignment echoes some of his work about test patterns and the mediated image (as in tv screens, etc) -- but it is unlike most of his work in that it does not appear directly to represent/appropriate this sort of imagery.

Prints are popular because they aren't particularly expensive. *If* this can be verified as a work by Paik, it's probably worth something but not much (almost certainly less than $1000, for example). More than that is hard to say, thanks to the insanity of the contemporary art market and the fact that you and I could be discussing almost anything, based on the photos.

You could get more information from an appraiser or, if you're in a city with a large art museum, possibly by contacting the curator of works on paper and asking them to take a look (they may refuse to answer the value question for professional reasons, but they can tell you what you have).
posted by obliquicity at 8:38 PM on February 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Obviously, the writing is scrawled, but it's not scrawled Korean. It looks more like Chinese/Chinese characters/Kanji, and so it could be Paik's name in Chinese (白南準), maaaybe.
posted by suedehead at 12:04 AM on February 9, 2010

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