UM Tai-Jung is one of the Korean abstract sculpture's first generation pioneers. Since his fascination with the materiality of steel during his undergraduate studies at Seoul National University in the early 1960s, Um has devoted himself to metal sculpture and investigated materials and resources throughout his career that continues to the present. In 1967, he caught the art world's attention as his emblematic steel sculpture A Scream won the Prime Minister's Prize in the 16th National Art Exhibition, and in the seventies he presented copper sculptures that revealed a remarkable contrast between the material's internal and external sides in terms of color and texture. In the 1980-90s, Um's abstract copper sculptures with a prominent vertical structure referred to Eastern philosophy concerning the ideas of the celestial and worldly, as exemplified by his Heaven, Earth, and Human, and the 90s' Bronze-Object-Age series reflected the shapes of Korean traditional wood furniture and pillars. From 2000s on, Um has been putting more emphasis on form-based works made of aluminum boards and steel frames that illustrate coexistence and reconciliation of mutually exclusive elements-such as Yin and Yang, and time and space-through the formal language of the vertical and horizontal, sculptural qualities of lines and planes, and harmonious palette of silver and black.
Born in 1938 in Mungyeong, South Korea, UM Tai-Jung graduated from the Department of Sculpture in College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University, studied at Saint Martin's School of Art in London, and held positions as a research professor at Berlin Fine Arts University and professor in the Department of Sculpture in College of Fine Arts at Seoul National University. He was awarded the Prime Minister's Prize from the National Art Exhibition (1967), Grand Prize from the Korean Art Grand-Prix Exhibition (1971), and Mirok Li Prize from the 7th Mirok Li Award (2012). Starting with a solo exhibition at Gwangju Gallery (1972), he has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions including the 12th Biennale de Sao Paulo (1973), Woodstock Art Gallery (1980), Georg Kolbe Museum (2005), and Sungkok Art Museum (2009). Recently, he held his solo exhibition at Arario Gallery Seoul I Samcheong and Cheonan (2019). In 2004, he was appointed Emeritus Professor at Seoul National University, and since 2013, he has served as a member of The National Academy of Arts of the Republic of Korea.