Joo Myung Duck: Motherland at Miyako Yoshinaga

Image above: Image above: at Miyako Yoshinaga on the opening night. 

Miyako Yoshinaga presented on March 12th Joo Myung Duck: Motherland, the celebrated Korean photographer’s first solo exhibition in the United States. Motherland features thirty gelatin-silver prints produced and hand-printed by Joo between 1965 and 2010. The exhibition examines his remarkable journey from photorealism to abstract photography.

 unnamed-2 unnamed-3Images above: ©Joo Myung Duck, (top) Temple Jungsu, 1991 ; (bottom) Holt's Orphanage, 1965. Courtesy of Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, New York. 

Joo Myung Duck is one of the most important photographers working today in South Korea. Joo’s early documentary style work observes the everyday struggles in post-Korean War society.  Whether his subjects are orphans, villagers, or families, Joo focuses on their dignity within harsh realities and unsettled circumstances.  His other work exquisitely studies the details of traditional architecture—from palaces to farmhouses—in a soft dim light.  Joo’s most outstanding works are the dark abstract landscapes that characterize his later evolution as an artist.

duck coupleImages above: ©Joo Myung Duck, (left) Munkyoung,1987; (right) Ilsan, 1998. Courtesy of Miyako Yoshinaga Gallery, New York. 


14DuckImage above: at Miyako Yoshinaga on the opening night. 


Among the most iconic images in Joo’s early work are portraits of children born of Korean women and American servicemen. Collectively known as Mr. Holt’s Orphanage/The Mixed Names (1965), these war orphans’ images reject mere judgment or sympathy. Widely published at the time, these photographs are now considered a cornerstone of Korean Realism. Inspired in part by Margret Mead’s “Family” (1965), Korean Families, the family portraits he shot on location during the 70s, both celebrate and question the fundamental values of rural and urban life amid rapid modernization.

 3DuckImage above: at Miyako Yoshinaga on the opening night. 

All Opening Images by Heehyun Oh.


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