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Duck-Shaped Vessel

Kim YikYung

Artwork Details

Duck-Shaped Vessel
Kim YikYung
stoneware with iron oxide painting over white slip under colorless glaze
26 1/2 x 31 x 11 1/2 in. (67.31 x 78.74 x 29.21 cm)
Museum purchase in honor of Elder and Mrs. Sang-Yong Nam, made possible with gifts in memory of Stephen and Sara Stewart Rogers


Kim Yik-yung is one of Korea’s leading ceramic artists. This vessel began as a wheel-thrown cylinder that she shaped into a square using paddles. After cutting and patching it—much like cloth -- she used a knife in a repetitive, near meditative process to make facets on the surface, a process she compares to an act of purification, imagining “the cakes of clay piled up on the floor to be the worries of the world.” The application of diluted white clay (slip) to the surface of the abstract sculptural form is an adaptation of a Joseon dynasty (1392–1910) buncheong-ware technique. The form itself evokes a duck; it is a tradition in Korea to place pairs of wooden ducks in the houses of the recently married to represent good wishes for a long, happy union blessed with many offspring. The simplicity and austerity of Kim’s work reflect her studies in the United States, her knowledge of contemporary art, and her intensive study of traditional Korean ceramics. 

Subject Matter:

Honored as artist of the year in 2004 by the National Museum of Contemporary Art in South Korea, Kim Yik-Yung's peices draw on Joseon courtly elegance and combine abstract forms with a focus on the overlap between function and aesthetic.

Physical Description:

This lidded vessel forms the shape of a duck, with a tail pointing from the rear and a head rising to face forward in the front. White slip was applied with visible and long brush strokes, and iron oxide painting adds a rusty hue to match the lower, unglazed clay color.

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