In June, South Korea’s National Assembly passed the Art Promotion Act, sparking some controversy within the Korean art scene. This dispute stems from differing opinions among members of the art community regarding the specific implementation guidelines for the “droit de suite,” which refers to an artist’s resale royalty rights.
This right, currently enforced in over 80 countries worldwide, allows artists or their heirs to claim a portion of the profits when their artworks, for which they have transferred ownership, are resold, such as in galleries, art fairs, or auctions.
Artists and creators believe that implementing resale royalty rights is crucial for fostering a thriving art ecosystem. Conversely, stakeholders in the art distribution industry, including galleries and auction houses, express concerns that resale royalty rights might hinder the growth of the Korean art market.
The UK’s White Cube is set to open its Seoul branch in September on the first floor of Horim Art Center in Gangnam-gu, Seoul. This marks White Cube’s second space in Asia after Hong Kong, and the gallery also maintains venues in London, New York, West Palm Beach, and Paris.
Starting on September 5, the inaugural exhibition titled The Embodied Spirit will feature artists including Lee Jinju, Louise Giovanelli, Christine Ay Tjoe, Tracey Emin, Berlinde de Bruyckere, Katharina Fritsch, and Marguerite Humeau.
Curated by White Cube’s Global Artistic Director, Susan May, the exhibition will showcase artworks with ideas related to philosophy, metaphysics, and human behavior motivations. White Cube Seoul will be led by Korean Representative and Director Jini Yang, who has been with the gallery since 2018.
South Korea provides a substantial amount of support programs for artists, more than many other countries. However, there has been widespread consensus in the field that the open-call support system, managed by public institutions, is overly complicated and difficult to navigate. Additionally, critics argue that there is an overemphasis on minor, one-time project grants, making it challenging for sustainable growth.
To address these concerns, the Arts Council Korea has announced that the open calls for the 2024 arts promotion projects and grants will be collaboratively drafted with input from the arts community. The aim is to simplify the open-call projects as much as possible while simultaneously implementing measures to strengthen grant management.
Through this restructuring of the open-call project framework, the hope is to diversify the range of supported projects while expanding autonomy within the field. The ultimate objective is to achieve a more equitable process that accommodates a wider range of stakeholders.