Western Galleries Expand in Seoul as Korean Art Market Heats Up

Outposts of Western blue-chip galleries are popping up throughout Seoul as the Korean art market, driven by a new generation of collectors, continues to draw increasing attention. The Paris–based international gallery Perrotin has revealed plans to establish a second outpost in the city, joining the branch it established there in 2016. The new gallery will occupy 2,700 square feet in Seoul’s posh Gangnam district and is slated to open in September. Also expanding in the city is megagallery Pace, which earlier this month revealed that it would add a new ground-floor space to its 8,500-square-foot gallery in the city’s Hannam neighborhood, which it only recently opened.

Sparking excitement especially is the hotly anticipated inaugural edition of Frieze Seoul, taking place this September alongside the long-running KIAF Seoul and its new spin-off, KIAF Plus. Speaking with Artnet News, Alice Lung, a Seoul-based partner at Perrotin, noted that “Seoul is definitely the most vibrant and exciting market for now.” Lung cited global attention to other Korean creative industries, such as movies and K-pop, as propelling the market. “The biggest changes we see over the years is the demographic of collectors and the number of people collecting art,” she said. “Before people were very focused on the dansaekhwa movement of artists but now, there is an explosion of young emerging artists from all facets of life in Korea, and the new buyers are very bullish about buying these new emerging talents.”

Perrotin will launch its new branch with a show of oil-on-linen paintings by the Los Angeles-based artist Emma Webster on September 2, the day Frieze Seoul and both KIAFs open. Other recent entrants to Korea’s capital city include the New York–based Gladstone Gallery, Lehmann Maupin, König Galerie, Thaddeus Ropac, and Various Small Fires, whose presence signifies their operators’ belief in the sustained viability of the art market there.


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