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Seattle Art Museum (SAM)

Yakima River at Thorp, WA, January 17, 1980

Courtesy of Johsel Namkung

Yakima River at Thorp, WA, January 17, 1980


Johsel Namkung

American, (born in Korea), 1919 - 2013

“I spend a lot of time looking for subjects… And finally, when I find something, there always has to be a unifying, kinetic force. Which means the rhythm, and in musical terms the melodic lines.” — Johsel Namkung

Trained as a classical musician, Namkung artfully arranges his compositions to reveal an entire universe in a tightly composed and focused snippet of a natural scene. Unlike his compatriots, Northwest artists Mark Tobey, George Tsutakawa, and Paul Horiuchi, Namkung created images that invite us to find the abstract rhythms in the nature that is in front of our eyes, rather than seeking universal truths.
Chromogenic digital laser print
40 × 50 in. (101.6 × 127cm)
Gift of Barney A. Ebsworth
Provenance: [Cosgrove Editions and the artist]; purchased by the Seattle Art Museum with funds from Barney A. Ebsworth, Oct. 19, 2006
Courtesy of Johsel Namkung
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySeattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Elegant Earth: Photographs by Johsel Namkung, May 4 - Oct. 15, 2006.

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Art Museum, Our Blue Planet: Global Visions of Water, Mar. 18 - May 30, 2022.
Published References"Ode of the Earth", 2006, Cenveo Graphic Arts Center, Portland, Oregon

Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities past, present, and future.

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