Press release

Shell and Resin: Korean Mother-of-Pearl and Lacquer

Exhibition Dates: December 13, 2021–July 5, 2022 
Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 233, Floor 2

Lacquerware with mother-of-pearl inlay has a long and rich tradition in the history of Korean art. On view through July 5, 2022, Shell and Resin: Korean Mother-of-Pearl and Lacquer showcases nearly 30 outstanding works of Korean lacquerware from The Met collection and marks the Museum’s first exhibition dedicated solely to Korean lacquerware.

The exhibition is made possible by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of the Republic of Korea (MCST).

Lacquer—an English word derived from the Portuguese lacré (sealing wax)—refers to the toxic sap sourced from trees belonging to the Toxicodendron genus widely found in Korea, Japan, southern China, and Southeast Asia. When exposed to oxygen and humidity, lacquer hardens, or polymerizes, becoming a natural plastic and ideal protective covering. The term “mother-of-pearl” has been used since at least the 16th century to describe the lustrous material in the interior of some mollusks in many parts of the world. The exhibition explores the manner in which lacquer and mother-of-pearl are often paired yet have distinct materialities.

The pieces are arranged thematically by motif to illustrate the technical and aesthetic development of the art form and acknowledge the greater Asian context through comparative examples of Chinese, Japanese, and Ryūkyū (Okinawan) lacquers and South Asian mother-of-pearl. The exhibition begins with a 12th-century trefoil box, noteworthy for its rarity, exceptional technique, and intricate inlay, and follows the tradition to the present, with contemporary works by Chung Haecho, Kim Hyunju, Kim Seol, and Sohn Daehyun.

Among the contemporary works is a set of five vessels by Chung Haecho, gifted to The Met in a ceremony held on September 20, 2021, that featured remarks by the First Lady of the Republic of Korea, Kim Jung-sook; the country’s Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Hwang Hee; and the Korean pop music group BTS. The press release announcement is available online.

Other highlights include exemplary 15th–16th Joseon mother-of-pearl lacquer; late Joseon inlaid ray skin, tortoiseshell, and mother-of-pearl chests; a lacquered wood palanquin; and a loan of Lee Bul’s mixed media work, Perdu X.

The exhibition is organized by Eleanor Soo-ah Hyun, Associate Curator of Korean Art.

The exhibition is featured on The Met website, including two videos that appear in the gallery, as well as on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter using the hashtag #MetKoreanArt.


December 22, 2021



즉시 배포

Shell and Resin: Korean Mother-of-Pearl and Lacquer

전시 날짜: 2021년 12월 13일–2022년 7월 5일
전시 위치: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 233, Floor 2

미국 최대 규모를 자랑하는 뉴욕 메트로폴리탄미술관 한국실에서  한국의 나전칠기를 주제로 하는 한국미술 특별전, <Shell and Resin: Korean Mother-of-Pearl and Lacquer>가 2021년 12월 13일부터 2022년 7월 5일까지 개최됩니다.

이번 특별전에는 메트로폴리탄미술관이 소장하고 있는 약 30여점의 한국 나전칠기 공예품 및 조각품이 소개되는 가운데 작년 9월, 유엔 총회를 계기로 문재인 대통령과 함께 뉴욕에 방문한 김정숙 여사와 미래세대와 문화를 위한 특사로 임명된 방탄소년단(BTS)이 메트로폴리탄미술관에 대한민국정부 명의로 선물한 현대 옻칠 공예작품인 정해조 작가의‘오색광율(五色光律)’도 포함돼 눈길을 끌고 있습니다

이번 전시는 최고의 예술성을 자랑하는 12세기 고려시대의 나전칠기 공예품부터 삼베를 천연 옻칠로 겹겹이 이어 붙여 만든 정해조 작가의‘오색광율’과 같은 현대 공예품에 이르기까지 옻칠과 자개가 어떤 방식으로 짝을 이루면서 각자 특별한 물질성을 지키며 예술성을 극대화 하는지 한, 중, 일 및 아시아 지역권의 나전칠기 문화와 비교하며 살펴볼 수 있는 좋은 기회가 될 것으로 보입니다.

이번 전시는 현수아(Eleanor Soo-ah Hyun)가 한국미술 큐레이터가 기획했습니다.

전시정보와 관련된 동영상은 메트로폴리탄미술관 웹사이트에서 찾아볼 수 있으며, SNS 해시태그 #MetKoreanArt를 통해 보다 많은 정보를 확인할 수도 있습니다.

※ 전시 보도자료는 메트로폴리탄미술관 측에서 배포하는 원본을 참고해 주시기 바랍니다


2021년 12월 22일


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