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Nam June Paik

American, born South Korea, 1932 - 2006

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Nam June Paik was born in 1932 in Seoul, Korea. The onset of the Korean War forced his family to flee to Hong Kong in 1950. They soon moved to Japan, and Paik graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1956 with a degree in aesthetics. To pursue his interest in avant-garde music and composition, the artist then went to Germany, where he met John Cage and George Maciunas. Paik participated in the neo-Dada Fluxus movement and gave his first performance in 1962. He immigrated to New York in 1964 and began to collaborate with cellist Charlotte Moorman. Paik was a pioneer in performance and technology-based art. He was the first artist to show abstract forms on a television, using a magnet to distort the image (in 1963), and the first to use a small portable video camera (in 1965). By 1970, he had invented a color video synthesizer with Shuya Abe that could combine and manipulate moving images from different sources. Paik taught at the Staatliche Kunstakademie in Düsseldorf from 1979 to 1996, though he also worked and lived in New York. Major retrospectives of his work were held at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1982) and at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (2000). In 1993, he represented Germany at the 45th Venice Biennale. In his later years, he incorporated laser technology into his new media sculptures and installations. Paik died in 2006.

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