Exhibition

Nam June Paik

In Character

June 3, 2017–January 1, 2018

Floor 2

This exhibition explores the pioneering career of Nam June Paik (1932–2006) through the prism of his close friendships with artists, including Joseph Beuys, John Cage, and Charlotte Moorman. Negotiating his identity between East and West, Paik developed an exuberant artistic language, incorporating Asian characters and symbols of his own devising that recur throughout his multi-faceted creations. Celebrating major gifts and acquisitions from the artist’s relatives, the Hakuta family, Nam June Paik: In Character showcases the late artist’s video sculptures, altered televisions, and an array of drawings and ephemera that have rarely or never been exhibited. Together, this selection spans Paik’s early Fluxus activity and performances to his final autobiographical works, tracing his playful vocabulary across geographic boundaries and artistic media.

The ongoing care and support for the Nam June Paik Collection at SFMOMA is provided by the Hakuta Family Nam June Paik Conservation Endowed Fund.

Entry to this exhibition is included with general admission.

Header image: Nam June Paik, Self-Portrait, 2005 (detail); collection SFMOMA, Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions; © Estate of Nam June Paik

Exhibition Preview

  • Old-fashioned General Electric television with a screen showing color video painted over with opaque neon scribbles

    Nam June Paik, Self-Portrait, 2005; collection SFMOMA, Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Katherine Du Tiel

  • Colorful ink drawing of overlapping boxes of different sizes with checkmarks

    Nam June Paik, Untitled (TV Ghosting), 2005; collection SFMOMA, gift of the Hakuta family; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Katherine Du Tiel

  • Simple black ink drawing of a television with an ink character written on the screen

    Nam June Paik, Untitled (TV Character), 1978; collection SFMOMA, gift of the Hakuta family; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Katherine Du Tiel