The archive is comprised of the papers of the artist (his writings, notes, scores, plans and designs, photographs and assorted print ephemera), his library (books, magazines, trade catalogs, etc.), as well as three dimensional artifacts from his studio (objects, toys, televisions, radios, the artist's desk, etc.) and over 200 videotapes (the artist's single-channel videotapes, installation videotapes, and videotape records of performances and interviews).
Scope and Contents:
The papers of Nam June Paik measure approximately 55 linear feet and date from 1832 to 2008, with the bulk of materials dating from 1960 to 2000. The papers document the artist's global career in video and multimedia art. The collection includes the artist's early writings on art, history and technology, performance scores, production notes for videotape and television products, plans for video installations, and documentation of large-scale television projects such as Guadalcanal Requiem (1977/79) and The More the Better (1988).
Letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes and notes from friends and business associates reflect Paik's association with a wide international circle of artists, including many of those associated with Fluxus. Biographical materials include vintage photographs, an early affidavit of support from Jonas Mekas for Paik's temporary entry into the United States and the transcript of a 1977 interview conducted by Dick Higgins.
Additional materials that provide insight into Paik's career include documentation of early Fluxus performances both before and after Paik's move to New York City in 1964 and printed announcements and programs for exhibitions, festivals, and performances.
Also included in the papers are over 400 books and magazines.
The collection is arranged into fourteen series:
Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1957-1999 (Box 1; 10 folders; .20 linear feet)
Series 2. Correspondence, 1959-2002 (Boxes 1-4 and oversize box 51; 74 folders, 1.5 linear feet)
Series 3. Financial and Legal Records,1965-2002 (Boxes 5-6; 27 folders; .8 linear feet)
Series 4. Project Files, ca. 1965-1998 (Boxes 7-10 and oversize boxes 52-53, 66 folders; 2 linear feet)
Series 5: Exhibition Files, 1974-2002 (Box 10 and oversize box 53; 19 folders; .3 linear feet)
Series 6: Notes and Writings, ca. 1960-2000 (Boxes 11-15 and oversize box 54; 112 folders; 2.1 linear feet)
Series 7: Sketchbooks and Sketches, 1974-1979 and undated (Box 16 and oversize box 54; 9 folders; .1 linear feet)
Series 8: Photographs, ca. 1940-2001 (Boxes 16-17 and oversize boxes 55 and 57; 36 folders; .9 linear feet)
Series 9: Artifacts and Ephemera, ca. 1960-2000 (Box 18 and oversize box 55; 17 folders; .5 linear feet)
Series 10: Printed Materials, 1832-2004 (Boxes 19-25 and oversize boxes 56-63; 121 folders; 10 linear feet)
Series 11: Books, 1839-2003 (Boxes 25-40 and oversize box 66; 17 linear feet)
Series 12: Magazines and Newsletters, ca. 1900-2000 (Boxes 41-46; 6 linear feet)
Series 13: Product Manuals, Trade Catalogs and Directories, ca. 1970-2000 (Boxes 47-50; 4 linear feet)
Series 14: Newspapers, 1867-2008 (Oversize boxes 62-65; 9.5 linear feet)
Nam June Paik (1932-2006), internationally recognized as the "Father of Video Art," created a large body of work, including video sculptures, installations, performances, videotapes and television productions. His art and ideas embodied a radical new vision for an art form that changed global visual culture.
Born in 1932 in Seoul, Korea, to a wealthy industrial family, Paik and his family fled Korea in 1950 at the outset of the Korean War, first to Hong Kong, then to Japan. Paik graduated from the University of Tokyo in 1956, and then traveled to Germany to pursue his interest in avant-garde music, composition and performance. There he met John Cage and George Maciunas and became a member of the neo-dada Fluxus movement. In 1963, Paik had his legendary one-artist exhibition at the Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, Germany, that featured his prepared television sets, which radically altered the look and content of television.
After immigrating to the United States in 1964, he settled in New York City, where he expanded his engagement with video and television, and had exhibitions of his work at the New School, Galerie Bonino, and the Howard Wise Gallery. In 1965, Paik was one of the first artists to use a portable video camcorder. In 1969, he worked with Japanese engineer Shuya Abe to construct an early video-synthesizer that allowed Paik to combine and manipulate images from different sources. The Paik-Abe video synthesizer transformed electronic moving-image making. Paik invented a new artistic medium with television and video, creating an astonishing array of artworks, from his seminal video Global Groove (1973), to his sculptures TV Buddha (1974) and TV Cello (1971); to installations such as TV Garden (1974), Video Fish (1975) and Fin de Siecle II (1989); videotapes Living with Living Theatre (1989) and Guadalcanal Requiem (1977/1979); and global satellite television productions such as Good Morning Mr. Orwell, which broadcast from the Centre Pompidou in Paris and a WNET-TV studio in New York City January 1, 1984.
Paik has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, including the major retrospectives: Nam June Paik, organized by Tate Liverpool and museum kunst palast, Düsseldorf (2011); The Worlds of Nam June Paik organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City (2000); and Nam June Paik, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art (1982). He has been featured in major international art exhibitions including Documenta, the Venice Biennale, and the Whitney Biennial.
In 2009, the Nam June Paik archive was received as a gift from the Nam June Paik estate.
Access to the archive requires an advance appointment. Please contact Paik Archive staff by email at PaikArchive@si.edu.
Unpublished materials are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.
Art, Modern -- 20th century -- United States Search this
An interview of Ralph Coburn conducted 1995 May 25 and 1995 June 23, by Robert F. Brown, for the Archives of American Art, in Coburn's home, Gloucester, Massachusetts.
Coburn talks about his parents and his childhood in Miami Beach, Florida; his early schooling; and entering Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 1941, in its 5-year architecture program. He recalls Walter Netsch, a classmate at MIT, who later became a partner at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who introduced Coburn to modern design and to avant-garde music. He also recalls the painter and head of painting at the Museum of Fine Arts School, Karl Zerbe, his teacher in the course of his work for advanced MIT architecture students. He talks about his return to Florida as a draftsman for an aircraft equipment company in Miami, outfitting planes for the African campaign, and his foreman, a son of Al Capone; then returning to Massachusetts to work with an electrical company making secret military components.
Coburn discusses returning to and dropping out of MIT; working at the Institute of Modern Art in Boston through Hyman Swetzoff; following Swetzoff to the Boris Mirski Gallery; studying at Mirski's art school with Esther Geller and John Wilson and friends made at the school, including Ellsworth Kelly, Arthur Polonsky, and Reed Kaye. He recalls Carl Nelson, one of his teachers. He talks about the change in atmosphere at the Institute with the replacement of Thomas Metcalf by James Plaut and Nathaniel Saltonstall who changed the Institute's name to Institute of Contemporary Art and the protest surrounding the name change.
Biographical / Historical:
Ralph Coburn (1923- ) is an architect, painter, and designer currently living in Gloucester, Massahusetts.
Originally recorded on 2 sound cassettes as 4 digital wav files. Duration is 2 hr., 36 min.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.