Guggenheim's Next Star Has Minimal(ist) Fame

Lee Ufan is coming to the Guggenheim Museum.


Judging by a luncheon at the venerable museum Tuesday, the Guggenheim seems to know it’s going to be an uphill battle promoting its big Lee Ufan retrospective in June, a show slated to take up the entire rotunda, six ramps and two annex galleries.

The Korean-born Japanese post-minimalist has something of a passionate cult following for his subtle, elegant, extremely under-stated works–but he’s far from well-known.  Ufan’s body of work includes such pieces as Dialogue (2008), described as “just two broad grey-black brushstrokes that hover on an expanse of white canvas,” and a sculpture of “a large rock, a pane of glass, and a sheet of rolled steel.”

At the presentation, senior curator for Asian art Alexandra Munroe admitted that there’s little buzz here about the theory-heavy artist and philosopher: ” Lee Ufan is relatively unknown in America” but deserves to be presented to “a wider public” to become part of  “a historical discourse” she said. He’s part of the Mono Ha movement, which questioned the traditional Western ideas of what art should be. Many of the 90 pieces have never been shown in the U.S. before.

At least 75-year-old Ufan will finally be getting his due. Munroe said it was “extraordinarily crazy” that no museum has done a retrospective on him yet. Someone else murmured to a friend, “Just between us, MoMa should have done this 25 years ago.”


Guggenheim's Next Star Has Minimal(ist) Fame