Thursday, September 24, 2015


Lee Bul was born in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbuk-do, South Korea in 1964. She is a contemporary sculpture and installation artist who began showcasing her work in the mid 1980s with provocative performance sculptures. Bul studied sculpture at Hongik University in Seoul, which divided Korean art between academic modernists who paint abstract canvases and people making minjoong misool or "People's Art". Because of this, Bul invented her own version of postmodernism that addresses issues such as gender and sexuality in public performances challenging the patriarchal society and their tolerance for feminist views. She graduated from the university in 1987.

Bul's first international scene was in 1997 with her installation "Majestic Splendor" presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. "Majestic Splendor" was a collection of sequin-decorated raw fish which rotted as time went on. In 1999, Bul again achieved international recognition when she represented Korea in the Venice Biennale.

Majestic Splendor, Lee Bul (1997)

Between 1996 and 1999, Bul completed three mixed media installations incorporating photography and large scale inflatable forms. One of these pieces entitled "I Need You (Monument), features a phallic object with a photograph of the artist in lingerie on the front and foot pedals below the mass to inflate it. The juxtaposition of  the title and medium contrasts the invulnerability of inflatables and ideas of what monuments are made of. The use of the pedals draws attention to society's contribution to traditional ideals. Another piece entitled "Hydra II (Monument)", is another image of Bul provocatively dressed on the surface of a large inflatable pink monster.

I Need You (Monument), Lee Bul (1996) - Hydra II (Monument), Lee Bul (1999)

Between 1997 and 2011, Bul created a series of cyborg sculptures that became very well-known. The series started with "Cyborg Red" and "Cyborg Blue"in 1997-1998. Her cyborg work features decapitated anthropomorphic forms that may be missing an arm, leg, or in some cases both. Bul has said that cyborgs are a trope for our fear and fascination with the uncategorizable and the uncanny.

Cyborg Red, Cyborg Blue, Lee Bul (1997-98) - Cyborg W1, Lee Bul (1998)

Bul has had many solo exhibitions worldwide including New York, Toronto, Paris, and Tokyo. She was also selected as a finalist for the 1998 Hugo Boss Prize by the Guggenheim Museum in New York. In 2010 a permanent installation by Bul was unveiled at the Hara Museum ARC called "A Fragmentary Anatomy of Every Setting Sun" and in 2012 the Mori Art Museum launched Bul's largest exhibition to date.
A Fragmentary Anatomy of Every Setting Sun, Lee Bul (2010)


Ardia, C.A. Xuan Mai. "The Art of Lee Bul: Of Cyborgs, Monsters and Utopian Landscapes." The Culture Trip. The Culture Trip Ltd, n.d. Web. <>.

Battista, Anna. "LEE BUL: FROM ME, BELONGS TO YOU ONLY – Zoot Magazine." LEE BUL: FROM ME, BELONGS TO YOU ONLY – Zoot Magazine. Kwame Corporation, 21 May 2012. Web. <>.

Masters, HG. "Wayward Tangents: Lee Bul." ArtAsiaPacific Nov. 2007: n. pag. Print.

Murray, Soraya. "Cybernated Aesthetics: Lee Bul and the Body Transfigured." PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art 30.2 (2008): 38-50. Web.

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