우성 김종영
又誠 金鐘瑛
KIM CHONG YUNG

Whose life was art, and the art itself became his life
Master of the Modern Korean Sculpture

Woosung Kim Chong Yung was an artist who gave new interpretation to the modern western sculptures through Korean sentiment, emotion and spirit and thereby was able to achieve unique modernity. His life and works have made significant contributions to the modern Korean history of sculpture in the 20th century as he devoted his life as a noble artist and educator even in the midst of the darkest time of our history.
Woosung(pen name) Kim Chong Yung 1915 -1982

Introduction

우성又誠 김종영 金鐘瑛 | KIM CHONG YUNG |
Famously known as a pioneer of the Modern Korean Abstract Sculpture, Kim devoted his life as a sculptor and educator who aimed to gain deep understanding on the world by understanding both the oriental and western philosophy and culture and expressing them in the form of sculptures. His world of art was a constant search for transcendence and absolutism flourishing under life, art, and love. Many artists who studied under Kim are still following the footsteps of their great master by dedicating their works and life for art and education.


Biography

1915-1935
From birth - aged 21
Kim Chong Yung was born on 26 June 1915 in Changwon at the Southern Gyeongsang Province as the first son among the five children of Ki-Ho Kim (pen name: Seongjae), 22nd generation in the family clan of Kim in Gimhae, and Jeong-Sil Lee.

After finishing a primary school at Hangri, Kim went to Seoul and attended Whimoon Middle School from 1930 to 1935. During this period, Kim met his lifelong teacher and mentor Bal Chang, who later served as the first Dean of the College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University. While he was attending Whimoon Middle School, his extraordinary talent in art was recognized after he won the first prize at calligraphy at the <the 3rd Exhibition for All Korean Male and Female Students> hosted by Dong-A Daily in 1932. Kim pursued his dream of an artist at Whimoon Middle School where significant figures and pioneers in the history of Korean Modern Art graduated including Dong-Jin Seo, Hui-Soon Yoon, Ji-Ho Oh and Ma-Dong Lee. Recommended by his teacher Bal Chang, Kim went to Japan to join the class of plastic arts at the Department of Sculpture in Tokyo Art School in March 1936 and took the first step of his lifelong dedication to the way of a sculptor.
1936-1947
aged 22-33
Kim Chong Yung was admitted to the Department of Sculpture in Tokyo Art School in 1936 and graduated the school in 1941. During his stay in Japan, Kim studied western classics translated in Japanese and was deeply impressed by western modern sculptors such as Emile Antoine Bourdelle, Aristide Maillol, and Constantine Brancusi, whom he met through the art books. In 1941 Kim briefly came back to Korea for a short time to be present at his father’s death and marry Ms. Hyo-Yeong Lee. With the outbreak of the Pacific War, however, Kim ended up staying longer at his hometown, living in seclusion and working on his art pieces using his wife and family as models.
1948-1959
aged 34 -45
Following the advice of his mentor Bal Chang, Kim Chong Yung joins the Department of Sculpture at Seoul National University in 1948. Even in the midst of the Korean War he continues to teach and stay with his students at Songdo in Busan where a temporary school was established. In 1953 Kim had the honor of winning an international open contest for <the monument in commemoration of unknown political prisoners> organized by Herbert Read and hosted by Tate Gallery in London, which was the first case for Koreans to win the overseas contest. Afterwards, Kim expanded his art beyond tangible human body sculptures and pursued abstract nature sculptures. One of the most representative pieces that best reflect such change is his wooden abstract sculpture <Bird> submitted to the 2nd Korean Art Exhibition in 1953. In addition, Kim also built <the Memorial Tower for the Fallen Student Heroes of Pohang> in 1958 to pay respect to the souls of the fallen young heroes who died during the war in Pohang at the Northern Gyeongsang Province.
1960-1969
aged 46 -55
There are only two commemorative sculptures left by Kim Chong Yung, but the <March First Independence Movement Monument> built in 1963 with the nationwide contribution from the public is evaluated as the <Monument of the Monuments>. However, it was disgracefully pulled down and neglected during the refurbishing project of the park in 1979 but later restored at Seodaemun (Western Gate) Independence Park in 1991.

Age 50 (the age known to understand the will of Heaven in the oriental philosophy): At the age of 50, Kim Chong Yung humbly recalled his life that all his works so far had been an experiment. With his passion to pursue the fundamental essence of sculptures and meaning of forms, Kim visited Paris and Rome upon the invitation from UNESCO from 1968 to 1969. Afterwards, Kim’s works moved on to a new organic and geometric world that combined absolute beauty of the western art with the oriental calligraphic beauty.
1970-1982
aged 56- passed away at the age of 68
During 1970s, Kim Chong Yung left the largest number of works, working day and night at his atelier built in the garden of his home at Samsun-dong. His family fondly recalls this period that ‘Kim dedicated himself in working on his art pieces with wholehearted sincerity as if a father would care for his children with a loving and tender heart.’ Kim was awarded with the Order of Civil Merit (Camellia Medal) in 1974 in recognition of his role for contributing to the development of modern Korean art and nurturing future generations and was selected as the member of the National Academy of Arts of the Republic of Korea (NAA) in 1976. Later in 1980, Kim held his grand retrospective exhibition looking back on his entire life in art at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. In commemoration of the exhibition, Jong-Tae Choi, one of Kim’s disciples, published Kim’s first art collection after collecting representative pieces of Kim. However, Kim was unexpectedly diagnosed with cancer in 1981 and after one year of his fight against cancer, he passed away on 15 December 1982 at the age of 68.