Moon Shin

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Moon Shin
Moon Shin - Towards the Universe Exhibition - Seoul 2022
Korean name
Revised RomanizationMun Sin
McCune–ReischauerMun Sin
Birth name
Revised RomanizationMun Ansin
McCune–ReischauerMun Ansin

Moon Shin (Korean문신; Hanja文信, January 16, 1922 – May 24, 1995) was a South Korean painter and sculptor whose childhood name was Moon Ahn-shin. His date of birth was reported late and is erroneously stated as 1923 in most publications.[1] When an international exhibition was held in France in 1989 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, Moon was one of 24 artists who were invited.[2] One of his pieces can be found in SOMA sculptor park celebrating the 1988 Summer Olympics Seoul.


Born in Takeo, Japan, his family moved to father's hometown, Masan in current Gyeongsangnam-do. Since mother's family never accepted the existence of his father, he had to set apart from her at 5.[3] In need, he worked as a laborer in Tokyo, studying Occidental painting in Nihon art college since he was 16.[4]

After independence of Korea, he refused to participate in Korean national art exhibition given that the foundation was conservative in his viewpoint. Later, he joined the "Modern art association" of major artists notably such as Yoo Youngguk, Park go seok and Han muk in 1957 before he decided to leave for Paris.[5]

He died of gastric cancer in 1995.


He moved to Paris in 1961 at first. His study in Paris encouraged him to immerse in modern art, which made him get into abstract paintings or sculptures focusing on wood materials.[6] This period is meaningful in that the artist widened his work space in arts.[7]

After a two-year stay in Seoul, he returned to Paris.[8] This time he paid attention to large-scale sculptors in abstract and imaginary structures, which called for invitation of several exhibition across Europe.[9] The outdoor exhibition in Le Barcarès brought him international fame starting in Europe.[10]

After coming back to Paris, his pieces achieved unique style in forms of symmetry, such as shapes of plants or creatures to fascinatingly demonstrate vitality.[11] His pieces represent the beauty of Korean tradition through bilateral symmetry with images of life.[12]

Although early pieces during Moon's second term in France didn't have definite titles such as 〈Piece〉·〈Sculptor〉·〈Untitled〉, exact titles started to be presented at later phase. This period provided him with a series of great opportunity to introduce pieces in Italy, Switzerland, Germany and so on.[13]

Returning to South Korea in 1980, he settled in Masan, his hometown,[14] eagerly focusing on sculptors made of bronze, stainless metal.[15] The difference from his anterior period was ingredients: He started to use much thicker materials such as ebony and pine trees.[16]

His philosophy comes from the idea that all the creatures hold the concept of symmetry and harmony in nature. Strong materials such as iron and metal drove him to accomplish his original objective.[17] His pieces show through patterns of Korean arts from the early 1950s and 1960s to mature abstract paintings until the early 1990s.


He constructed an art center by himself in Masan to commemorate his art pieces, coming after honorable degree of literature from Kyungnam University.[18]

The French government honoured Moon by celebrating his artwork to enhance interchange relationship between Korean and French modern art. Notably, his works were invited to several exhibitions: invitation exhibition of Paris art center in 1990; Hungarian Natural History Museum in 1991; retrospective exhibition in Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (1992).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Moon Shin Retrospective: Towards the Universe. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea. August 2022. p. 31. ISBN 978-89-915-5590-7.
  2. ^ "Third Moon Shin museum set to land in Yangju", Joongang Daily 2009-07-09
  3. ^ '문신 미술관' 마산시에 기증키로 한 부인 최성숙씨 Yonhap 2005-06-23
  4. ^ 새롭게 부활하는 거장 조각가 문신 Weekly Hankook Ilbo 2009-08-04
  5. ^ ‘서양화 동인’을 통해 본 50~60년대 한국미술 Kyunghyang Shinmun 2006-12-26
  6. ^ 문신은 화가이기도 했다‥고양문화재단 '화가 文信'전 Newsis 2008-03-05
  7. ^ 마산 '조각가 문신의 초기 회화展' 개막 2009-03-05
  8. ^ 고난에 찬 삶속에 藝道 정진했던 조각가 故 文信씨 Tribute on great sculptor Moon shin, Yonhap 1995-05-24
  9. ^ 문신미술관 '4인의 재불작가 초대전' 개막 Yonhap 2012-11-01
  10. ^ <세계적 조각가 문신 일대기 출간> Yonhap 2007-12-07
  11. ^ Melodies of Moonshin, Ensemble Symmetry Concert in Korea
  12. ^ University Museum: To Meet a Broader World, Dongguk Post 2008-09-05
  13. ^ Park, Raebu⟨한국의 명화 Korean painting in fame⟩ p.139, 1993
  14. ^ Art museums and halls, theme pme park and libraries for citizens Moon Shin museum
  15. ^ List of catalogue lists MOON-SHIN STAINLESS & BRONZE
  16. ^ '문신 미술관' 마산시에 기증키로 한 부인 최성숙씨 Donga Ilbo 2002-11-13
  17. ^ 한국 추상미술의 원류 만나다 Encounter the original flow of Korean abstract paintings.
  18. ^ Sculpture story 2010-10-14

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