Nam June Paik at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), May 8 – October 3, 2021

“The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present the exclusive U.S. exhibition of Nam June Paik, a major retrospective of Paik’s radical and experimental art. One of the first truly global artists, Paik (1932–2006) foresaw the importance of mass media and new technologies, coining the phrase ‘electronic superhighway’ in 1974 to predict the future of communication in an internet age. The exhibition will celebrate his multidisciplinary and collaborative practice that encompassed art, music, performance and technology, all in dialogue with philosophies and traditions from both Eastern and Western cultures.

Bringing together over 200 works across all media spanning a five-decade career, from early compositions and performances to large-scale video installations and global satellite projects, Nam June Paik offers an in-depth understanding of the artist’s trailblazing practice. Paik’s innovative, irreverent and entertaining works were informed by his musical background and his vision of an interconnected future. Organized by SFMOMA and Tate Modern, London, with additional presentations at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and the National Gallery Singapore, the retrospective will be the first major Paik show in the U.S. in over 20 years and the first ever largescale survey of his work on the West Coast.” — San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Nam June Paik, Sistine Chapel, 1993 (installation view, Tate); courtesy the Estate of Nam June Paik; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Andrew Dunkley © Tate
Nam June Paik, TV Garden, 1974–77/2002 (installation view, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam); Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Peter Tijhuis
Timm Rautert, Nam June Paik lying among televisions, Zürich, 1991; © Timm Rautert
Nam June Paik, Random Access (Record Shishkebab), 1963/1979; Arter, Istanbul; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Arter Collection, Istanbul; flufoto
Nam June Paik, Magnet TV, 1965; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, purchase with funds from Dieter Rosenkranz; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: courtesy the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Nam June Paik, Magnet TV, 1965; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, purchase with funds from Dieter Rosenkranz; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: courtesy the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
Nam June Paik, TV Cello, 1971; collection Walker Art Center, T.B. Walker Acquisition Fund, 1992, Minneapolis, formerly the collection of Otto Piene and Elizabeth Goldring, Massachusetts; © Estate of Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik, Egg Grows, 1984–89; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Accessions Committee Fund: gift of Elaine McKeon, Byron R. Meyer, Madeleine Haas Russell, and Mr. and Mrs. Robert A. Swanson; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Johnna Arnold
Nam June Paik, Merce / Digital, 1988; collection Roselyne Chroman Swig, San Francisco; © Estate of Nam June Paik
Nam June Paik, One Candle (Candle Projection), 1989 (installation view, Tate); courtesy the Estate of Nam June Paik; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Jon Huffman
Nam June Paik, Chongro Cross, 1991; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Katherine Du Tiel
Nam June Paik, Untitled (John Cage), 1996; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, gift of the Hakuta family; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Don Ross
Nam June Paik, One Candle (also known as Candle TV), 2004; courtesy the Estate of Nam June Paik; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Jon Huffman
Nam June Paik, Self-Portrait, 2005; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions; © Estate of Nam June Paik; photo: Katherine Du Tiel

“Nam June Paik is famous for being the historic father of video art, but his groundbreaking and contemporary influence is even more based on his crossover between all media,” said Rudolf Frieling, curator of media arts at SFMOMA. “Paik’s radical visual and musical aesthetic has a natural home here on the West Coast as a place for global connectivity.”

Nam June Paik is curated by Rudolf Frieling, Curator of Media Arts, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Sook-Kyung Lee, Senior Research Curator, Tate, with Andrea Nitsche-Krupp, Assistant Curator, SFMOMA. The exhibition is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and Tate Modern, London, in collaboration with Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and National Gallery Singapore.

Images courtesy San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.