Korean Cultural Heritage, Vol. 1: Fine Arts

A visual exploration of the history of Korean art throughout different eras with explanations of the periods, types of art, and their overall significance.
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Yeong & Yeong Book Company
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Aiding the AP Art Teacher

Field of Interest/Specialty: Art & Social Studies
Posted On: 06/04/2018

This first book in a series of KOREANA publications sponsored by the Korea Foundation examines the development of the arts in Korea from prehistoric times through the 1990s (date of publication). Introducing the textbook with a comprehensive description detailing a resurgence in the archaeological study of the arts, this volume is divided into three sections, each featuring a variety of individual essays analyzing the artistic impact of various paintings, handicrafts, and architectural works. These contributors tell the tale of artists who acted not as copiers but rather as conduits for cultural exchange between China and Japan with art forms that are “inseparable from geographic and social conditions.”
As a high school art teacher who struggled to find quality resources investigating the stories behind the Asian works selected for inclusion in the AP Art History curriculum, this book is invaluable. Not only does it describe in detail the uncovering of a gold and jade crown, but it also features an insightful analysis of Korean portrait and landscape painting as well as Buddhist art and architecture. Additionally, comparisons between various types of Korean ceramics and the history of papercrafts with a detailed outline describing the process for creating the world’s finest hanji paper rounds out the first volume. Finally, a comprehensive glossary includes a variety of art terminology, a comparative political chronology of Korea, Japan, China, and the West, and a series of historical maps in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the text.
With a multitude of pictures, many of which are full-page representations of the works being described, much can be taken from this book without even reading a page. However, the text is outstanding and well-worth reading by advanced students. The essayists combine multiple examples from a variety of artists with the interviews of experts to provide a strong analysis of works backed up by archaeological evidence. Thus, the contributors to this well-researched text clearly achieve the former director of the National Museum’s goal of describing Korean art as “a wife and mother, earthy, warm, and rarefied” by showing the uniqueness of the creative endeavors of the Korean people over time.