Is Nam June Paik the Next Big Thing in Art Collecting World?

Contemporary Korea-born American artist's works are selling at bargain prices.

May 24, 2017 5:00 am
Should Nam June Paik's Artwork Be the Next Big Thing Among Art Collectors?
Exhibition of Televiewer of Nam June Paik in Paris,France on December 10th,1982. (Jean-Claude Francolon/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

After a Jean-Michel Basquiat went for a record $110.5 million last week, art collectors are on the lookout for the next big thing.

Bloomberg reports aficionados should be looking no further than Korean-born American artist Nam June Paik, who is “widely considered the father of video art.”

The publication may have a point. Paik’s archives are already in the Smithsonian Institution, and two years ago, it was announced that his estate would be represented by Gagosian Gallery.

But per Bloomberg, prices for Paik’s works currently sit in the $20,000–$200,000 range, not the millions, which some of his contemporaries like Robert Rauschenberg command.

His early works found patronage in Germany, and Paik continued to sell, but not via one gallery—which may have led to the issue of his works’ value not rising incrementally.

Another issue in terms of its value? How difficult the art is to understand. “Visually (his art) is nice, but the content can be heavy and philosophically deep. It’s not so easy,” Jochen Saueracker, an artist who worked with Paik for years, told Bloomberg. Plus, given that his work is video- and TV-based, the fact that both degrade could also have an adverse effect.

Paik’s works will be included in auctions in Hong Kong, South Korea, and New York this spring. You might just find the bargain of a lifetime in one of them.

Watch one of Paik’s video-based works from 1976 in action below.

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