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  • "As you look down rows of [TV Chairs] wonder if Paik is really saying “Television is not life"– or only offering traditionalists a diplomatic way out. The irony that allows Pop art to be read as a celebration or a castigation of consumerism, or both, operates effectively for Paik. By playing TV overload to the hilt, he creates a visual orgy that can be perceived as a saturated essence of electronic art or a stinging criticism on the vulgarity of life with the tube." —Suzanne Muchnic, LATimes, 1988

    • Provenance

      Carl Solway Gallery, Cincinnati
      Private Collection, Germany
      Acquired from the above by the present owner circa 1995

    • Exhibited

      London, Hayward Gallery, Nam June Paik, Video Works 1963 – 88, September 29 - December 11, 1988, no. 20, p. 39
      New York, James Cohan Gallery, Nam June Paik, Music is Not Sound, September 11 – October 20, 2019

    • Literature

      Klaus Bussmann and Florian Matzner, eds., NAM JUNE PAIK, eine DATAbase, exh. cat., German Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 1993, p. 97 (illustrated, p. 98)

    • Artist Biography

      Nam June Paik

      American • 1932 - 2006

      Nam June Paik was born in Seoul in 1932, but was forced to flee with his family due to the Korean War. Settling in Japan in 1950, Paik studied classical piano at the University of Tokyo before moving again to West Germany to continue his studies in music. There, he began integrating his art and music practices. 

      Paik is widely considered the father of video art. In the 1960s and 1970s, he was an integral member of the Fluxus movement, which is known for producing experimental works that sought to create new art forms. In Paik’s 1969 manifesto, he declared, “I want to shape the TV screen canvas as precisely as Leonardo, as freely as Picasso, as colorfully as Renoir, as profoundly as Mondrian, as violently as Pollock, and as lyrically as Jasper Johns.” 

      Often incorporating television sets into his work, one of his most famous works, TV Cello, transformed the machines into a working instrument, and in other instances, such as Good Morning Mr. Orwell, he would use the television as a conduit for live performance pieces. Paik’s musings proved to be rather prophetic. He coined the term “electronic super highway,” envisioning a world where media would be able to connect people from all over the world. Paik passed away in 2006. In the years since, numerous museums and institutions have launched career retrospectives, including the Whitney, the Guggenheim and the Smithsonian.

      View More Works


Music is Not Sound

signed and dated "88 PAIK" on the right TV monitor
single-channel video system, acrylic on 2 TV-chairs with 9" color monitors, 2 cymbals, mallet, 2 found bust sculptures and 2 plastic telephones
46 x 72 x 41 in. (116.8 x 182.9 x 104.1 cm)
Executed in 1988, this work is from a series of 6 unique variants.

Full Cataloguing

$100,000 - 150,000 

Contact Specialist

John McCord
Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
New York
+1 212 940 1261

[email protected]

20th c. and Contemporary Art Day Sale - Morning Session

New York 8 December 2020