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Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art

Lee, Soyoung with Ahn Daehoe, Chin-Sung Chang, and Lee Soomi
164 pages
209 illustrations
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Mount Geumgang, also known as the Diamond Mountains, is perhaps the most famous and emotionally resonant site on the Korean Peninsula, a magnificent range of rocky peaks, waterfalls, and lagoons, dotted with pavilions and temples. Since ancient times, it has inspired cultural pride, spurred spiritual and artistic pilgrimages, and engendered an outpouring of creative expression. Yet since the partition of Korea in 1945 situated it in the North, Mount Geumgang has remained largely inaccessible to visitors, shrouded in legend, loss, and longing.

Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art is the first book in English to explore the pictorial representations of this grand and varied landscape. The special exhibition it accompanies, organized by Soyoung Lee, Curator in the Department of Asian Art, examines the evolution of Diamond Mountains imagery from the golden age of Korean true-view painting in the eighteenth century to the present day. Even today, when a profusion of Instagram photos can make the world’s most obscure sites and geographical oddities seem familiar, the Diamond Mountains portrayed here in album leaves, scrolls, and screens will be a revelation to many.

Met Art in Publication

Invitation to Reclusion at Jingxi, Dong Qichang  Chinese, Handscroll; ink on paper, China
General View of Inner Geumgang, Sin Hak-gwon (artist name: Doam)  Korean, Six sheets of paper mounted as a single panel; ink and light color on paper, Korea
mid-19th century
Wild geese descending to sandbar

, Unidentified artist, Hanging scroll; ink on silk, Korea
late 15th–early 16th century
Woods and Valleys of Mount Yu, Ni Zan  Chinese, Hanging scroll; ink on paper, China
dated 1372
Eight views of the Yellow Mountains, Zheng Min  Chinese, Album of nine leaves of painting and calligraphy; ink on paper, China

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Lee, Soyoung, and Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, N.Y.), eds. 2018. Diamond Mountains: Travel and Nostalgia in Korean Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art.