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About the Aritst: Nam June Paik

Portrait of Nam June Paik

Photo Credit: Dick Higgins

Nam June Paik was born in Seoul, South Korea in 1932. He attended Kyunggi High School in Seoul while he took private piano lessons and learned to compose music. In 1949, with the Korean War brewing, Paik's family was forced to move and relocated to Hong Kong. The family moved again a year later; this time to Tokyo, Japan, where Nam June enrolled in the University of Tokyo. Paik studied music, art history, and aesthetics and after graduating in 1956, he began to travel again. After stops in Calcutta, India and Cairo, Egypt, Paik settled in Germany to continue studying twentieth-century music. While in Germany, he met and befriended American composer John Cage. Paik spent most his time in Germany experimenting with musical composition and performance art.

In 1959, Nam June Paik began to write to his friend, John Cage, about his interest in television as a possible form of artwork. In 1963 he had his first one-artist exhibition Exposition of Music-Electronic Television at the Galerie Parnass in Germany. After briefly returning to Japan, Paik flew to New York in 1964 to meet Cage. What Paik meant to be a six month trip to the United States became much longer. It was in the United States that Nam June continued his artistic experimentations with television art. His video sculptures were featured in galleries and museums, and his television projects were broadcast around the world. Paik continued to work in other countries and was truly a citizen of the world, but he spent most of his time in New York studio and later in Miami Beach.

Nam June Paik died in his home in Miami Beach in 2006, but his art and revolutionary ideas live on.

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