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LACMA acquires a major work by Il Lee
Installation view of Il Lee's Untitled 978 F in "IL LEE: The 90s" at Art Projects International in New York, 2018.



NEW YORK, NY.- Art Projects International announced the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) recently acquired a major work on paper by the Korean-born artist Il Lee for the museum's permanent collection. Untitled 978 F — a very large (80 x 60 inches) black ballpoint ink on paper work — is from Il Lee's seminal 978 series of powerful drawings from the 1990s. Internationally celebrated for his pioneering work with ballpoint pen and a storied career spanning nearly five decades, Lee is a trailblazer of contemporary abstraction.

In 1977, Lee moved to New York to continue his studies which he had begun in the studios of South Korea’s most renowned 20th century artists. Created 20 years after Lee arrived in New York, during a pivotal period of intense growth and experimentation for the artist, the 978 series works drew upon his distinct cultural background and his multifaceted artistic training and influences. These works of monumental form created by durational rendering with the most fundamental of tools, the ballpoint pen, reveal how Lee broke from other painting approaches to develop his signature process and take contemporary art practices to their limits. This extraordinary series of drawings also had far-reaching consequences for the future development of his work, leading to equally monumental works on canvas. Recognized for his unceasing commitment to his studio, Lee continues to explore unorthodox media and performative mark making while remaining attentive to historical traditions of painting and ink.

Il Lee (b. 1952 Seoul, Korea. Lives and works in New York) is celebrated for his pioneering work with ballpoint pen that began over 40 years ago. The significance of Lee’s artistic contributions, use of unorthodox media, and singular sensibility have received worldwide recognition. In his recent acrylic and oil works on canvas, Lee offers a counterpoint to his well-known ballpoint pen work and continues his early investigations of materials and process that began decades ago. Lee studied painting in the 1960s and 1970s in Seoul before moving to New York in 1977, earning an MFA that culminated in a thesis on the Italian Futurists. Lee’s presence in New York as an artist was established when his first ballpoint ink drawing was shown at the Brooklyn Museum in 1981. Lee’s first solo exhibition at Art Projects International in 1997 presented a groundbreaking, in-depth survey of ballpoint ink drawings on paper from 1984 to 1996. Lee built on his international reputation with his critically acclaimed 2007 mid-career retrospective at the San Jose Museum of Art in California. Museums exhibiting his work include The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Palms Springs Art Museum, Queens Museum Art, Crow Museum of Art, Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, Smithsonian Museum of Art, Brooklyn Museum, and National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. Work by Il Lee is represented in prominent collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), San Jose Museum of Art, Palm Springs Art Museum, Vilcek Foundation, National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Korea, Leeum Samsung Museum of Art (Seoul), and Société Bic (France), among others.










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