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Kim Hong-do


The Korean history of the arts has numerous famous painters through various periods and genres. Therefore, the most prominent artist was Kim Hong-do, who was the first Korean painter depicted the everyday routine of ordinary people during the Joseon period. Kim Hong-do, also known under the pseudonym Danwon, lived from 1745 to approximately 1806. He was born in the family of Korean officials and had an excellent education, what made him a member of the royal art academy. Nevertheless, he did not follow the way of his family members and decided to dedicate his life to art.

It is believed that he was taught by the famous Korean calligrapher Pyoam Kang Sehwang. Moreover, Kim Hong-do studied several painting styles, including ancient linear technique. Being a talented young man, Kim also had good manners and a charismatic personality, which were reflected in his early works. Beyond, Hong-do was one of the most successful Joseon court’s painters as well as he created a King Jeongjo’s portrait. The excellent skills and art mastery made Kim the King’s favorite painter.

While being the social and pleasant man, the artist was beloved by his contemporaries and had support from the King. It is a known fact that Hong-do traveled across the country, observing the Koreans’ lives and habits, what can be tracked throughout his drawings. Nonetheless, Danwon is more famous for his landscape paintings, what was a new trend at that time in Korean art, and what established a new direction for future generations.

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Furthermore, it is suggested that Kim Hong-do chose to landscape, as he loved nature and was admired by people and their interactions within natural settings. Noteworthy that some critics and art experts stated that Danwon’s works represent not only the beauty of nature and significance of hard working but also have a note of criticism to that period political and social behaviors. The argumentation can be found in some of his artworks, which have the emphasis on the contrast between hardworking farmers and lazy landowners.

The Kim Hong-do personnel was the essential figure in Korean art, as he established a new painting school and several styles, which were used for centuries. Even though, his art became a golden standard and example of portraying and landscaping, which can be used to render the beauty of nature and humankind.

Key Ideas in Painting

The Kim Hong-do style is mostly representing portraits of ordinary Korean villages. The artist aimed to depict the emotions and actions of people, what was a new direction in the Korean art. The ideas introduced by Hong-do were to portrait pure, natural, and realist episodes from everyday life. Therefore, some Danwon’s latest artworks made emphasis on nature and its beauty, might, and power.

Famous Paintings Made by Kim Hong

The most famous Hong-do’s drawings are Seodang (Village School), Jumak (The Inn), Dancing Boy, Plowing a Rice Field, and Gathering of Xiyuan. All these pieces of art show the combination of landscapes and portraits, where the artist highlights the interactions between people and nature. Even though, other Kim’s works also focus on the nature or people’s activities; thus, the previously mentioned drawings wholly represent Korean artist’s mastery and excellence.

How to cite this page

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Kim Hong-do. (2018, Aug 09). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/artists/kim-hong-do-biography-55659/

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