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Nam June Paik (1932 - 2006)
Nam June Paik (1932 - 2006)
Nam June Paik (1932 - 2006)
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Nam June Paik (1932 - 2006)
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VAT rate of 20% is payable on hammer price and buy… Read more ART FOR FUTURE – SELECTED WORKS FROM THE UNICREDIT GROUP
Nam June Paik (1932 - 2006)

Anonymous Crimean Tatar who Saved Life of Joseph Beuys - Not yet Thanked by German Folks

Details
Nam June Paik (1932 - 2006)
Anonymous Crimean Tatar who Saved Life of Joseph Beuys - Not yet Thanked by German Folks
found electrical parts, metal, headlights, rope and wooden cart
figure: 120 1/8 x 86 5/8 x 66 7/8in. (305 x 220 x 170cm.)
cart: 49 5/8 x 32 5/8 x 57 7/8in. (126 x 83 x 147cm.)
Executed in 1993
Provenance
Achenbach Kunsthandel, Düsseldorf.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1993.
Exhibited
Venice, German Pavilion, La Biennale di Venezia, XLV Esposizione Internazionale d'Arte, Nam June Paik Eine Data Base, 1993, p. 129 (illustrated in colour, on the cover, p. 116, 127).
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Lot Essay

Created for the German Pavilion’s exhibition Marco Polo at the 45th Venice Biennale, Anonymous Crimean Tatar who saved Life of Joseph Beuys – Not yet thanked by German Folks, 1993, exemplifies Nam June Paik’s near-prophetic understanding of the integral role television plays in society. With a body composed of cathode ray tubes and a face illuminated by the glow of two ocular headlights, the robot-like sculpture is larger than life. Although he created his first ‘robot’ in 1964, it wasn’t until the late-1980s that he returned fully to the theme of the permanently entanglement of humans and technology. Paik’s presentation at the pavilion grappled with the historical passage between Asian and Europe, and the ways in which this link has been reimagined and superseded by electronic communications. His machined portraits reflect on the role of the artist as a nomadic and innovative figure. The title, Anonymous Crimean Tatar who saved Life of Joseph Beuys – Not yet thanked by German Folks refers to the German artist Joseph Beuys who, while serving in the Luftwaffe, claimed to have been rescued by a group of Tatars after his plane crashed in the Crimea. Although later proven untrue, the story was fundamental to Beuys’ personal mythology and an apparent inspiration for his subsequent art practice. Beuys famously smashed one of Paik’s modified pianos that was on view in his first solo exhibition in 1963. Nevertheless, Beuys was an important influence for Paik, and both believed that art had the power to better the world.
Born in Seoul, Paik initially studied music composition in Tokyo, before moving to West Germany. Early on, he was intrigued by television and mass media communication, and this interest combined with his early contact with Beuys, John Cage and other members of the Fluxus movement, propelled him towards an avant-garde, performance-based practice. Fluxus artists relied upon chance, humour and performance in their endeavours to democratise art, and in this group, Paik found an ideal philosophical framework, threads of which can be seen in his later sculptures and installations. Seizing quickly the possibilities of video for forging direct engagement with an audience, Paik believed that the societal impact of television would be seismic. It was a technology that had long fascinated him, ever since his eldest brother purchased a television, the neighbourhood’s first set. He began incorporating and manipulating televisions in the early 1960s, and these ‘prepared televisions’ were included in his 1963 exhibition. In the subsequent television robots, Paik offers new ways to understand these mediums as both agents and artworks, deconstructed to its essential components in the present work. Indeed, Anonymous Crimean Tatar who saved Life of Joseph Beuys – Not yet thanked by German Folks is a rare example of a robot created solely from dismantled sets. By embracing a multisensorial experience, Paik’s practice ignited the global new media movement. Establishing himself as a visionary figure, he displayed a prescient understanding of how interconnectivity would fundamentally alter the world, which will be further explored in his upcoming exhibition at London’s Tate Modern in 2019. In both its image and material, Anonymous Crimean Tatar who saved Life of Joseph Beuys – Not yet thanked by German Folks embodies mass communication, and the work invites viewers to be not passive receivers, but instead active participants in the generation of culture and history.

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