One of the most common concerns I hear from people who want to study Korean art or archaeology is that they don’t know where to start in terms of reading materials. They’re concerned about their language abilities, that there won’t be informative books in English, and just that the books are so rarely published that they’re outrageously expensive to buy. That last part is true. But the rest if it is less so, as there is a wide range of information available in English and even other languages if you know where to look. To make things easier for those interested in Korean art, mostly ceramics, I’ve decided to post a full listing of my MA dissertation biography. Hopefully, it will guide you in the right direction to learn more, and maybe you’ll end up finding your own suggestions along the way.
That being said, I did write my dissertation on the influence of Joseon white porcelain (백자) on contemporary Korean artwork (the title was a mouthful, believe me), so the majority of these books are about traditional studies and ceramic analysis. I focussed on three major ceramic artists as well (Kang Ik-Joong 강익중, Koo Bohnchang 구본창 and Yee Sookyung 이숙영), so you’ll see their names pop up throughout this list. Nothing was deleted or left out, and any Korean-text books had their titles translated, so you might not be able to find a handful of these available in English.
Some of you may be entirely confused as to why I’m doing this, but I hope for many of you this offers you a fresh place to start. Or if you’re already interested and involved in this area of study, I hope there are a few new resource ideas available for you. Overall, most of these resources were pretty helpful and relevant to today’s research.
Put on those reading glasses, brew your favorite cuppa, and enjoy!*
*If you’re looking for even MORE suggestions, check out my other article here about great Korean history books (in English) for beginners.
Ahn, Hwi-Joon et al. “Korea.” Oxford Art Online, 2003. http://www.oxfordartonline.com/groveart/view/10.1093/gao/9781884446054.001.0001/oao-9781884446054-e-7000047380. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
“Artist Yee Sookyung on Embracing the Imperfect”. Seattle Art Museum, January 28, 2016. http://samblog.seattleartmuseum.org/2016/01/artist-yee-sookyung-on-thousand/. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
Atkins, Taylor E. Primitive Selves: Koreana in the Japanese Colonial Gaze, 1910-1945. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.
Bailey, Douglass et al. “Unearthed”: A Comparative Study of Jomon dogu and Neolithic Figurines. San Francisco: Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Culture, 2010.
Barliant, Claire. “Ik-joong Kang: 1392 Moon Jars (Wind).” Guggenheim, June 2010. https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/26824. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
Barthes, Roland. “The Photographic Message.” In A Barthes Reader, edited by Susan Sontag, pages 194-210. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983.
Boyer, Pascal. Tradition as Truth and Communication: A Cognitive Description of Traditional Discourse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.
Bracken, Gregory. Asian Cities: Colonial to Global. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2015.
Cho, Insoo. “Confucianism and the Art of the Joseon Dynasty.” In Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, edited by Hyunsoo Woo, pages 1-11. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.
Choi, Bong-young et al. “Applying Traditional Values to Modern Korea.” Koreana 12, no. 1 (1998): 4-11.
Chung, Hyun-min. “Korean Aesthetics Seen in an Exhibit of Early Choson Dynasty Treasures.” Koreana 11, no. 1, 1997: 60-67.
Chung, Yeon-shim and Poinsot, Jean-Marc, ed. Lee Yil: Dynamics of Expansion and Reduction: Selected Writings on Korean Contemporary Art. London: Ridinghouse, 2018.
Ebrey, Patricia and Walthall, Anne. East Asia: A Cultural, Social, and Political History. Boston: Wadsworth, 2014.
Eco, Umberto. A Theory of Semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1976.
Ehwa Womans University Museum. White Porcelain in the Joseon Dynasty. Seoul: Graphicnet, 2015.
Goepper, Roger and Whitfield, Roderick. Treasures from Korea. London: British Museum Publications, 1984.
Hobsbawm, Eric and Ranger, Terence. The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Horlyck, Charlotte. “Arts and Culture in the Confucian State of Joseon.” In Joseon Korea: Court Treasures and City Life, pages 14-33. Singapore: Asian Civilisations Museum, 2017.
Horlyck, Charlotte. Korean Art From the 19th Century to the Present. London: Reaktion Books Ltd., 2017.
Hwang, Jihyun et al. Celebrating Events with Banquets and Ceremonies in the Joseon Dynasty. Seoul: National Museum of Korea, 2011.
Ivy Wu Gallery. Breaking the Surface: Contemporary Korean Ceramics. Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland, 2000.
Jang, Sung Wook. “Official Kilns in Gwangju: The Production of Royal Vessels.” In In Blue and White: Porcelain of the Joseon Dynasty, pages 46-49.Seoul, Samsung Moonhwa Printing Co., 2015.
Jeon, Seung-chang. “Korean Ceramics Seek to Capture the Essence of Nature.” Korea Journal 46, no. 2 (2005): 20-23.
Jin, Dong-sun. “Koo Bohnchang: Images Reflecting the Other Side of Life.” Koreana 17, no. 3 (2003): 36-41.
Kang Dae-gyu. “Overview of Joseon Blue-and-white Porcelain.” In In Blue and White: Porcelain of the Joseon Dynasty, pages 8-45. Seoul, Samsung Moonhwa Printing Co., 2015.
Kang, Ik-joong. “Moon Jar / 2006.” Ik-joong Kang. http://www.ikjoongkang.com/c_article/article_03_kang03.html. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
Kang, Kyung-sook. Korean Ceramics. Seoul: The Korea Foundation, 2008.
Kee, Joan. “The Curious Case of Contemporary Ink Painting.” Art Journal 69, no. 3, 2010: 88-113.
Kee, Joan. “Use of Vacation: The Non-Sculptures of Lee Seung-taek.” Archives of Asian Art 63, no. 1 (2003): 103-129.
Kim, Hyun-jung. “Poetry in Cobalt-blue.” In In Blue and White: Porcelain of the Joseon Dynasty, pages 140-155. Seoul, Samsung Moonhwa Printing Co., 2015.
Kim, Myung Ja. The Korean Diaspora in Post-war Japan: Geopolitics, Identity and Nation-building. London: I.B. Tauris & Co., 2017.
Kim, Youngna. Modern and Contemporary Art in Korea: Tradition, Modernity and Identity. Seoul: Hollym Corporation Publishers, 2005.
“Koo Bohnchang.” Parkgeonhi Foundation. http://www.geonhi.com/english/koo-bohnchang-in-the-beginning-1991-1998/. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
Kwon, Young-pil. “’The Aesthetic’ in Traditional Korean Art and Its Influence on Modern Life.” Korea Journal 47, no. 3 (2007): 9-34.
Lee, Hye-Kyung, ed. Cultural Policies in East Asia: Dynamics Between the State, Arts and Creative Industries. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.
Lee, Jiyoon. “In the Eye of the Hurricane of Change: Korean Contemporary Art of the New Millennium.” Papers of the British Association for Korean Studies 10, 2005: 95-105.
Lee, Soyoung. “Contemplations on the Moon Jar.”, The Met, March 3, 2010. https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/now-at-the-met/features/2010/contemplations-on-the-moon-jar. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
Lee, Yil. “Contemporary Korean Art Born of Liberation and War.” Koreana 9, no. 1 (1995): 30-35.
Lee, Yongwoo. Information & Reality: Korean Contemporary Art. Edinburgh: Fruitmarket Gallery, 1995.
Lee, Youngwoo. “The Flow of Identity in Korean Art.” In Korean Contemporary Art, pages 101-105. Seoul: Hexa Communications, 1995.
Lingner, Richard, ed. Joseon Korea: Court Treasures and City Life. Singapore: Asian Civilisations Museum, 2017.
Lim, Young-ju. “The Beauty of Traditional Korean Motifs.” Koreana 12, no. 1 (1998): 12-17.
Mabi, Katayama. “Revealing the Essence of Joseon Dynasty Porcelain.” Koreana 20, no. 4 (2006): 52-57.
Moon, Dongsoo. “The King and His Court.” In Treasures From Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, edited by Hyunsoo Woo, pages 78-145.New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.
Moon, Dongsoo. “The Reception of a New Culture and New Visual System in Korea’s Modern Era.” In Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, edited by Hyunsoo Woo, pages 68-78. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015.
National Museum of Korea. In Blue and White: Porcelain of the Joseon Dynasty. Seoul: Samsung Moonhwa Printing Co., 2015.
Nha, Il-seong. “Development of Science and Technology in the Early Choson Period.” Koreana 11, no. 3, 1997: 20-25.
Ock, Hyun-ju. “Why Koreans Want to Leave ‘Hell Joseon’.” Korea Herald, December 11, 2017. http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20171210000292. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
“Plain Beauty: Korean White Porcelain Beauty/Photographs by Bohnchang Koo.” Philadelphia Museum of Art. https://www.philamuseum.org/exhibitions/2010/388.html. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
Potts, Alex. “Two Sign.” In Critical Terms for Art History 2nd Edition, edited by Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff, pages 20-34. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2003.
Roe, Jae-ryung. Contemporary Korean Art. St. Leonards: Australian Humanities Research Foundation, 2001.
Shin, Michael D., ed. Everyday Life in Joseon-era Korea: Economy and Society. Boston: Brill, 2014.
Sinsheimer, Karen. “Identity, Family, Memory: Who Am We?”. In Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photography, pages 58-77. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
Sinsheimer, Karen et al. Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photography. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
Starkman, Christine and Zelevansky, Lynn. Your Bright Future: 12 Contemporary Artists from Korea. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
Szczepanski, Kallie. “The Ceramic Wars: Hideyoshi’s Japan Kidnaps Korean Artists.” ThoughtCo., August 5, 2018. https://www.thoughtco.com/ceramic-wars-hideyoshis-japan-kidnaps-koreans-195725. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
Tucker, Anne Wilkes. “Past/Present: Coexisting Realities.” In Chaotic Harmony: Contemporary Korean Photography, pages 10-33. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009.
Weaver, A. M. “Yeesookyung.” Art in America Magazine, June 29, 2014. https://www.artinamericamagazine.com/reviews/yeesookyung/. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
Woo, Hyunsoo, ed. Treasures from Korea: Arts and Culture of the Joseon Dynasty, 1392-1910. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2014.
“Yee Sookyung – Why I Create.” Phaidon. http://uk.phaidon.com/agenda/art/articles/2018/january/24/yeesookyung-why-i-create/. (Accessed September 2, 2018).
Yi, Joo-heon. “Kang Ik-joong: The More the Better.” Koreana 10, no. 2, 1996: 64-67.