For the past while, I’ve been seeing enormous queues (see above) on the big road at the bottom of our Hill (yes, it is is a Hill not a mere hill), and learned that the object of desire was the Gansong (간송) Art Museum. Internet research reveals that the museum was founded in the 1930s by Gansong (pen name of Jeon Hyeong-pil), who bought up classical Joseon-period Korean art to keep the Japanese from taking it (an approach that reminded me of the Nature Conservancy).
Why the queue? The museum is only open 2 months a year, October & May. And it’s phenomenal.
The building itself looks to be purpose-built in the 1930s, with a small exhibit hall on the ground floor, and the 1st floor almost entirely taken up by a large hall filled with display cases. Very nice building – the large windows gave a nice airy feel, and let in lots of light for looking at the drawings.
The collection itself is larger than what was on display — looking through the catalogues, earlier years had pictures that I’d definitely not seen. But what was on display was more than enough! A bit overwhelming, actually. A lot of people were buying not just this year’s catalogue but every year that was still on offer. I bought 2013 and 2009.
The art was all traditional Korean ink-on-paper, with a mix of themes (landscapes, people, animals). From the dates of the artists’ lives, most of the collection was from around 1700 to 1825. One piece that I particularly liked (and was able to buy a print of) was a landscape with women doing their toilette, which was very reminiscent of similar pictures in Europe that I’ve seen.
The grounds were very nice, though we could only stroll around the main building. There were a number of interesting statues dotted about, including one of the eponymous founder and an interesting Buddah. Here are the other statues, since I couldn’t take pics of all the artwork inside:
I was strolling home, after all that, and found myself in front of Chocolate con Churros, a churreria in our neighborhood and probably the only one in all of Korea. What to do except go in and place the obvious order? Surprisingly good, and fairly authentic, although they didn’t speak any Spanish. I loved their business cards, which are designed to look like a Madrid metro ticket, ha ha!