From 3 Kingdoms to 2 Koreas: Korean Art Galleries at LACMA

Also spelled 'PO-ja-gi' - Your choice

What have we here? A painting from the 1920s by Paul Klee? A Jazz LP cover from the 50s? A Louis Vuitton scarf from the 00s?

Nope. Wrong wrong wrong. This colorful, seemingly contemporary assemblage is in truth a silk craftwork made in the 19th century in Korea. You’re looking at a “wrapping cloth” or to give it its Korean name it’s a… ah… just a minute. It’s a…

Now you know as much as I do.Oh, here we go. Fortunately my memory was augmented by my past self with this photo of the information placard near the bojagi in the new Korean Art Galleries of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). The stitched-together fabric artwork is called a bojagi or pojagi, depending on which transliterator looks more trustworthy to you. Korean women have been making them for centuries, but they all look as new and stylish as if they were made yesterday. You need not take my word for it: Read the placard yourself and grow wise.

Forgot to read the info card. Sorry. Turtles are for luck, by the way.So much to see in the Korean rooms at LACMA. I guess it’s the largest collection of Korean art on display outside the nice half of Korea. The time-frame represented by the statues, figurines, ceramics, paintings, woodwork, and loads else is vast: From the Three Kingdoms Period (way back when), through the Goryeo Dynasty (from then up til 1392), through the Joseon Dynasty (1392 to 1910), right up to a sample of that great contemporary Korean work such as was seen so recently in LACMA‘s eye-popping “Your Bright Future” show. Here’s a figurine from the somethingth century (forget to make notes) holding a turtle. The rooms hold many turtles. There are turtle stamps and turtle clasps on turtle boxes. You will enjoy the wealth of turtles. I know I did.

To help you picture the size of the bojagi, here is the first photo repeated, with the head of an Abenaki Indian for scale.

Look up 'Northwest Passage' on IMDb

For a more intelligent and informative essay on the newly installed Korean Art Galleries at LACMA, see Dorothy Guest Tours the West.

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