Nam June Paik - Evening & Day Editions London Wednesday, January 17, 2024 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • “The oldest television set humankind had was the moon, people always gazed at the moon.”
    —Nam June Paik

    For Nam June Paik, the television set was not just a passive medium for displaying information, but an active instrument capable of disseminating cultural narratives and shaping societal norms. Paik was born and raised in Seoul, Korea, but emigrated to Japan aged-eighteen due to the outbreak of the Korean War. After studying aesthetics at the University of Tokyo, he moved to West Germany, before later emigrating to the United States. As a result of this journey, Paik viewed the world with a unique cross-cultural lens, and this global trajectory is evident in his artistic vision. The television, with its mass appeal and pervasive influence, captivated him as he sought to demonstrate that both art and technology transcend national, cultural and linguistic boundaries. For Paik, the universal language of television could facilitate a shared understanding among people from different backgrounds, fostering a global conversation. His prescient concept of the “electronic superhighway” – a global communications network very similar to what would become the world wide web  – forecasted our contemporary society. For this reason, Paik is often hailed as a prophet of today’s digital era, due to his deeply attuned understanding of the power of technology to transform global communications.



    Informed by his experiences in Japanese-occupied Korea and mid-century West Germany, Paik possessed a nuanced understanding of how political power manipulates the masses through media. “Television is a dictatorial medium,” Paik argued. “When the superiors say something to the inferior, they can just listen and answer “Yes.” . . . I think talking back is what democracy means.” Paik emphasized TV’s one-way transmission of ideas under authoritarian rule, prompting him to explore its subversion. When staging his inaugural solo exhibition at Galerie Parnass in Wuppertal, Germany, in 1963, Paik sought to disrupt the passive spectatorship associated with televisions. Integrating magnets and pedals to distort the signal, he generated manipulated, ghostly images, intending to estrange viewers from the medium and underscore the curated nature of televised reality. Paik's objective was to empower the audience to reclaim control over their engagement with television, encouraging a resistance to unidirectional mass media.


    As we navigate an era saturated with social media, artificial intelligence, and constant news cycles, Paik's artworks serve as enduring reminders to question and actively engage with information presented to us. A pioneering figure, his work poignantly calls for dialogue and democratization of communication in the digital age. 

    “On a personal level, Nam June was a man full of profound, wise humour. As the “father of video art”, he publicly declared “I never watch videos”. He never cared about the art market or financials. He would joke that he had trouble getting into restaurants because he looked like a “bum”. And when I was very precise about the production of one of his pieces, he would remind me: “When too perfect, lieber Gott böse”. A man full of West-Eastern wisdom.”
    —Jörg Schellmann

    • Provenance

      Personal copy of the publisher and part of the Archive of Edition Schellmann since time of publication

    • Literature

      Jörg Schellmann, ed., Forty Are Better Than One, Munich/New York, 2009, pp. 264-265

Works from the Archive of Edition Schellmann to benefit the Ars Publicata Project


Born Again

Patinated cast bronze of a Kuba television with three television monitors, antennae, and plug.
84 x 58 x 14 cm (33 1/8 x 22 7/8 x 5 1/2 in.)
Signed in English and Korean, dated and numbered 'AP 2/6' in black ink on the accompanying label (an artist's proof, the edition was 24), published by Edition Schellmann, Munich and New York.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 20,000 Ω

Sold for £20,320

Contact Specialist

Because of technical difficulties our sale is delayed. We should resume soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.
+44 20 7318 4024

Rebecca Tooby-Desmond
Specialist, Head of Sale, Editions

Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

Anne Schneider-Wilson
Senior International Specialist, Editions

Louisa Earl
Associate Specialist, Editions

Evening & Day Editions

London Auction 17 - 18 January 2024