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John Pai Book


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The first comprehensive monograph on the master contemporary Korean American sculptor, from his seminal wire sculptures to his never-before-seen early works formed of steel.

John Pai (b. 1937) is a prolific multimedia artist whose handmade three-dimensional sculptures are, paradoxically, still objects that seem to exist in a state of movement and transformation. This full-career survey of Pai’s inventive work consists of his rarely seen early work up to the present.

Pai’s incredibly intricate, three-dimensional abstract “drawings in space” are made of endless lengths of individual steel or copper rods and textured sheets made from hundreds of rods welded together. Unlike many contemporary sculptors who draw a sketch and let metalworkers do the actual construction, Pai continues to do all his work himself―from choosing the materials to the labor-intensive process of welding and bending the metals into complex and sometimes massive forms.

Immigrating from Korea to the US at age 11, Pai showed his prodigious talent for art at a young age. He received a scholarship to attend Pratt Institute, and in the 1960s, Pai became the youngest professor appointed to the faculty at Pratt. Leading its fine arts and sculpture programs for nearly four decades, Pai proved a talented and beloved educator, nurturing generations of sculptors and fostering the burgeoning Korean artistic community in New York with those such as his contemporary Nam June Paik, reflecting a sensibility outside the mainstream of American art.