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Piano Piece

Nam June Paik (South Korean, 1932–2006). Piano Piece, 1993. Closed-circuit video sculpture, 120 x 84 x 48 inches (304.8 x 213.4 x 121.9 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 1993 (1993:9a-ii). © 1993 Nam June Paik

© Estate of Nam June Paik

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Nam June Paik

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Nam June Paik

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Nam June Paik

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Nam June Paik

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

© Estate of Nam June Paik

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Nam June Paik

South Korean, 1932-2006

Piano Piece, 1993

closed-circuit video sculpture

overall: 120 x 84 x 48 inches (304.8 x 213.36 x 121.92 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 1993

1993:9a-ii

More Details

Inscriptions

signature / inside piano at left

Provenance

the artist;
Holly Solomon Gallery, New York;
sold to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, December 14, 1993

Class

Sculpture (visual work)
Video art

Work Type

Assemblage (sculpture)
Video art

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Nam June Paik created Piano Piece as a tribute to his close friend and mentor, the avant-garde composer John Cage. Paik altered this piano to play one of Cage’s compositions using a computer program designed by Richard Teitelbaum, one of the artist’s numerous collaborators. The television monitors display collaged footage of Cage; shots of Paik’s hands while playing the piano; images of Cage’s collaborator and companion, avant-garde choreographer and dancer Merce Cunningham; and a live stream of the piano, captured by two cameras trained on the keys.

One of the most influential figures of his generation, Paik was the first artist to recognize the potential of both television and video as artistic mediums. For the artist, television provided a vast trove of images that he could alter for his own ends. Beginning in the late 1950s, he experimented with disrupting broadcast footage by applying magnets to television screens. In 1965, Paik became one of the first people in the United States to acquire a Sony Portapak—a relatively lightweight, mass-market portable video recorder—and he promptly shot his first video on the cab ride home. He exhibited the resulting work that evening at an artist’s club and came to be considered the inventor of video art.

Label from Out of Sight! Art of the Senses, November 4, 2017–January 28, 2018

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