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Nam June Paik (1932-2006)
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Nam June Paik (1932-2006)

Lucy

Details
Nam June Paik (1932-2006)
Lucy
signed and dated 'PAIK '92' (on the back of the metal frame)
aluminium frame, neon, oil paint, electrical wires, five TV sets, laser discs, circuit boards, keyboards, type-writer, plastic, metal and electric elements
63 x 61 x 30¼in. (160 x 155 x 77cm.)
Executed in 1992
Provenance
Galerie Hans Mayer, Dusseldorf.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1993.
Literature
P. Restany, 'A Rare Collection in Israel', in: Cimaise, revue de l'art actuel, no. 246, April-May 1997 (illustrated, unpaged).
Exhibited
Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, A Passion for the New, New Art in Tel Aviv Collections, October 1995-January 1996 (illustrated in colour, p. 53).
Special notice

VAT rate of 5% is payable on hammer price and at 15% on the buyer's premium

Lot Essay

Cobbled together with a strange and alien logic, televisions, circuit boards and other electronic components are here amassed to form a portrait for the cyberpunk era. Executed in 1993, Nam June Paik's Lucy shows the artist putting into practice his statement from the mid-1960s that 'Someday artists will work with capacitors, resistors and semi-conductors as they work today with brushes, violins and junk' (quoted in M. Hartney, 'Nam June Paik', Grove Art Online, Oxford, 2006). With wire for hair and keyboards for eyebrows, this is certainly a portrait bust for the age of computers, and this effect is increased by the sparkling and ever-changing appearance brought about by some of the fully-functioning circuitry. Even electricity itself is a medium in Nam June Paik's work, as are the images shown on the screens.

There is a comic aspect to this portrait, and indeed much of Nam June Paik's work is characterised by the artist's sense of humour and infectious enthusiasm, as was evident even in his early performances. It is with a wilful, whimsical and humorous sense of contrariness that the artist has bent the products of technology-- so utilitarian and practical and streamlined in their design and construction-- to his own perverse designs. He deliberately undermines the inherent purposefulness of these objects, forcing them to become part of an artwork and therefore making them complicit in art which, as Oscar Wilde suggested, is 'quite useless'. While backhandedly celebrating the Technicolor wonders of the computer age, the role of technology within Lucy and within Nam June Paik's art in general has a dark side, forcing us to contemplate the endemic nature of the electronical in our world, yet overall it is with an all-embracing enthusiasm and a sense of humour that we regard this light- and movement-filled portrait from a slightly retro future.

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