The Guggenheim Acquires Three Works by Lee Ufan

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Lee Ufan, Relatum-dissonance, 2009

The Guggenheim Museum recently acquired three seminal works by artist, philosopher, and poet Lee Ufan. The two sculptures and one painting come into the collection on the eve of this summer's retrospective Lee Ufan: Marking Infinity and are generous gifts of Lisson Gallery, London; Kukje Gallery, Seoul; Blum & Poe, Los Angeles; and The Pace Gallery, New York, in honor of the artist.

Active in Korea, Japan, and France since the 1960s, Lee's creation of a visual, conceptual, and theoretical terrain has radically expanded the possibilities for Post-Minimalist painting and sculpture. Lee's innovative body of work revolves around the notion of encounter—seeing the bare existence of what is actually before us and focusing on "the world as it is." Lee rose to prominence in the late 1960s as the leading theorist and practitioner of Mono-ha (School of Things), a Japanese art movement that developed from the collapse of colonial world orders, antiauthoritarian protests, and the rise of modernity critiques.

Lee's sculptures, presenting dispersed arrangements of stones together with industrial materials like steel plates, rubber sheets, and glass panes, recast the discrete object as a network of relations based on parity between the viewer, materials, and site. The newly acquired works of steel and stone, Relatum—dialogue (2002/11) and Relatum—dissonance (2009), are exceptional examples of Lee's sculptural oeuvre. Dialogue (2010) is part of an eponymous series of paintings exploring the relationship between the confines of the painting itself and the space beyond.

Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator of Asian Art at the Guggenheim and the curator of Lee Ufan: Marking Infinity, said of the gifts: "It is always particularly meaningful to acquire works directly from a Guggenheim exhibition. These works will become a greater part of our curatorial identity as a museum, expanding our rich holdings of Post-Minimalist art with a fresh critical perspective."


Lee Ufan, Relatum–dissonance, 2009. Two poles, 118 1/8 x 1 9/16 inches (300 x 4 cm) each; two stones, approximately 9 13/16 inches (25 cm) and 11 13/16 inches (30 cm) high. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Gift, Kukje Gallery, Seoul, in honor of Lee Ufan, 2011