Every culture in history all over our planet has produced folk art, i.e. art intended for the everyday person, rather than wealthy or noble patrons. Although similar to so-called “primitive” art (a term against which I’ve railed in the past) the artists were often self-trained, folk artists differ from the other because they did not imitate art that was patronized by the wealthy; they produced subjects meant to be appreciated by every day people. And unfortunately, unlike the artists popular with the upper classes, most Korean folk artists are not known by name. In
When we think of painting in
This panel most likely comes from an eight-fold or ten-fold screen. Such screens were used by common people and nobility alike. The subject is the attributes of a scholar: books, paintings, ceramics, ink stones, pen containers, and musical instruments scattered in bookshelves. The subject itself is actually inspired by the reverence for scholars who esteemed learning and art above all else. This itself was a Chinese tradition, which nurtured the whole school of “literati painting” of scholar/artists. The subject would have appealed to both commoner and noble alike. While the objects are realistically portrayed, their placement within each shelf is somewhat mystical, as if some of them are actually floating. The perspective within each shelf is typical of Chinese and Japanese painting and prints at the time.
Minhwa suffered a decline in popularity in
The Art Institute of Chicago has a gorgeous chaekgado.
An interesting variation on the theme from a Korean antique auctioneer.
This example from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts depicts objects not necessarily related to scholars.
Interesting interview with contemporary minhwa artist Kim Hye-joong from earlier this year.