Opening hours: Tuesday- Sunday 10:30am- 6pm
Admission: free (although entrance into the museum is 10,000 won)
Definitely worth the occasional haunt, are the Louise Bourgeois sculptures situated outside the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art in Hannam; ‘Eye Benches,’ (1996-7) and ‘Maman,’ (1997), just a stone’s throw away from Itaewon.
As I’m sure most people are aware, the Leeum Samsung Museum of Art itself is not to be missed. Housed in three stunning, separately designed buildings, there is a fantastic collection to behold. Museum 1 is breathtaking with its contrasting dark and light spaces, with beautifully spotlit celadons, porcelains, Buddhist paintings and statuettes and other forms of traditional Korean art. Museum 2 packs punches with an impressive array of 20th century art heavyweights. Think of one, and they’ll probably be represented. It’s in this gallery that I saw my first ‘real life’ Yves Klein in all of its sumptuous, ultra marine ‘International Klein blue’ patented glory. A beautiful moment! It really is hard to be unimpressed here. Gallery 3 is a kind of underground space given over to excellent temporary exhibitions. Hats off to Samsung with this one!
However, it’s the Louise Bourgeois sculptures out front that keep me crawling back for more. The feminist in me loves the fact that Bourgeois’ big, heavy, masculine sculptures sit out here braving the elements, whilst contemporaries of the male dominated modern art canon play it safe inside on canvas.
The four wonderful, Zimbabwean granite, Italian carved ‘Eye Benches’ with heavy eyelids are spread throughout the grounds. They are lusciously curved, turning the cold, hard, grey stone into an inviting surface. They seem to follow you wherever you walk.
The ‘Eye Benches’ surround ‘Maman,’ two bronze, stainless steel and marble structures taking the form of a towering mother and baby arachnids. They are casts taken from Bourgeois’ original ‘Maman’ series created in the late 90′s; a series which has become synonymous with her, endowing her with the nickname, ‘Spiderwoman.’ They are well known as works bound up in her childhood trauma of discovering that her English governess was also her father’s mistress. The spider represents her mother and conveys themes of nurture and protection in bold, macho materials.
Visits in different kinds of weather and times of night or day emphasise different facets of the mother’s character. The lighter and warmer, the more motherly the spider appears. The darker and colder, the more foreboding she appears. And look at these for some cool pictures for the ‘Eye Benches’ in the snow!