(1934 – 2020), South Korea

Young-Il Ahn Biography

Young-Il Ahn (b. 1934, Gaeseong, Korea) is renowned for meticulous abstract paintings that explore his relationship with beauty, nature and music.

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Ahn's most famous paintings belong to his Water series, a body of work that associated with Dansaekhwa, an aesthetic position specific to Korea, which expresses natural processes through a monochromatic palette. As a Korean-born painter working in the U.S., Ahn is unique among Dansaekhwa artists.

Along with his connection with the philosophies and practices of Dansaekhwa, Ahn makes many other types of paintings as well. For example, he has created many paintings inspired by music, the beach, birds and the sunset, as well as a pared down series of paintings titled Space, which features sparsely painted canvases that highlight the void.

The son of an artist, Ahn began painting as soon as he could hold a brush. His exceptional natural ability led him to be considered a prodigy, and he was given his first solo exhibition in Tokyo at age six. He earned his Bachelor of Art degree from Seoul National University. His first US group exhibition was in New York, in 1957. Two years later, Ahn had his first US solo exhibition—at the Hull House in Chicago, a south side organisation run by humanist reformers focused on equality and justice. The group offered free arts and crafts classes for many decades. Countless working class Chicago artists in the early and mid-20th century credited the Hull House with their education.

In 1966, Ahn moved permanently to the US, settling first in New York and soon afterward moving to Los Angeles where he still lives and works today. His mature work is heavily influenced by California light and beach culture. His daily interaction with the sea is the primary inspiration for his Water series, which he has been pursuing for three decades. Says Ahn: "When I look out upon the ocean, I tremble as if I am holding part of the universe in my hand. This is why, for the past thirty years I have ceaselessly tried, through The Water Series, to put that 'tremble' onto my canvases.

Text courtesy Kavi Gupta.

Young-Il Ahn
featured artworks

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Water A-6 by Young-Il Ahn contemporary artwork painting
Young-Il Ahn Water A-6, 1996 Oil on canvas
228.6 x 203.2 cm
Kavi Gupta Request Price & Availability
Water BLSC 16 by Young-Il Ahn contemporary artwork painting
Young-Il Ahn Water BLSC 16, 2016 Oil on canvas
162.6 x 132.1 cm
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Water DLM N 18 by Young-Il Ahn contemporary artwork painting
Young-Il Ahn Water DLM N 18, 2018 Oil on canvas
142.2 x 91.4 x 5.1 cm
Kavi Gupta Request Price & Availability
Water CLW 99 by Young-Il Ahn contemporary artwork painting
Young-Il Ahn Water CLW 99, 1999 Oil on canvas
127 x 111.8 x 5.1 cm
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Water SQBB 19A by Young-Il Ahn contemporary artwork painting
Young-Il Ahn Water SQBB 19A, 2019 Oil on canvas
61 x 50.8 x 5.1 cm
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Kavi Gupta
Water SQRB 18A by Young-Il Ahn contemporary artwork painting
Young-Il Ahn Water SQRB 18A, 2018 Oil on canvas
61 x 50.8 x 5.1 cm
Kavi Gupta Request Price & Availability
Water AHSW 19 by Young-Il Ahn contemporary artwork painting
Young-Il Ahn Water AHSW 19, 2019 Oil on canvas
152.4 x 182.9 cm
Kavi Gupta Request Price & Availability
WATER S96 by Young-Il Ahn contemporary artwork painting
Young-Il Ahn WATER S96, 1996 Oil on canvas
21 1/2 x 17 inches
Baik Art Request Price & Availability
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