Sunday, November 27, 2011

Art and War

This morning we visited Leeum Samsung Museum of Art. It's got all the right contemporary credentials: three buildings designed by Botta, Nouvel and Koolhaas; gorgeously presented collection of traditional Korean ceramics, scroll-art and metalwork; and a fine selection of contemporary works from Korea and the West - including Korea's most famous artist, Nam June Paik, plus Richter, Bacon, Hirst, Kapoor, Giacometti, Koons, de Kooning, Warhol... a big Bourgeois spider... a Rothko room... and a great series by the Canadian artist Adad Hannah of what look like still photographs of people in domestic scenes but on close inspection (the blink of an eye, the twitch of a finger) turn out to be videos. 

Then a great dejeuner at a classic French restaurant in the cosmopolitan Itaewon neighborhood. Not posh, just typically Gallic with great soup, frites, poulet with emmental, baguettes, a carafe of wine and an apple crumble to die for. Forgotten how good French food can be. We then gave our hosts some down-time, while we took a stroll around the large and incongruously central US army base (which is due to be handed back in 2019 to be turned into a park) before popping into the War Museum. An odd choice perhaps, but it was pretty interesting: one floor given up to impossible-to-comprehend ancient battles, another about the Korean War 1950-53, which goes some way to explaining the US base next door. I hadn't realized that the British contributed over 50,000 soldiers to the UN forces - the second largest after the US. 

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