80 Urban Reality

80 Urban Reality

May 25, 2023 - May 26, 2025

61, Deoksugung-gil, Jung-gu, Seoul, 04515, Rep. of KOREA


Weekdays (Tue–Fri) 10am - 8pm
Sat· Sun · Public Holidays
- Summer (Mar-Oct) 10am - 7pm
- Winter (Nov-Feb) 10am - 6pm
The last Wednesday of each month 10am - 10pm
Closed day 01.01

80 Urban Reality sheds light on the urban surroundings of Korea in the 1980s through the GanaArt Collection and other artworks collected by the Seoul Museum of Art (SeMA). GanaArt Collection refers to a total of 200 works donated to SeMA by Gana Art Center Chairman Lee Ho-jae in 2001. The collection encompasses works of the Minjung Art movement and of realism pieces that vigorously reflect the social reality of Korea in the 1980s and 1990s.
Korean society entered a new phase of urbanization in the 1980s after the high-speed economic growth of the 1960s and 1970s, dubbed “Miracle on the Hangang River.” However, this extraordinary achievement was accompanied by multiple social issues. Workers suffered from poor working conditions. Rural economy weakened and migration of rural residents to cities accelerated. Extensive development in Gangnam area, emergence of the middle class, and import liberalization fostered consumer culture in and around cities.
In the wake of such dramatic social changes and urbanization, artists created diverse works, each reflecting their unique methods and perspectives. This exhibition highlights how the artists perceived the urban reality of the 1980s by thematically dividing their works into three categories: “The Other Side of Urbanization,” “Urbanites,” and “Beyond Urban Surroundings: Origin of Life.” By borrowing the eyes of artists who lived through the times, it is hoped that viewers may comprehend the multi-layered reality of Korean society, as well as the individuals that lived through the urbanization of the 1980s. Furthermore, we hope that visitors to the exhibition will ponder on the significance of the artist’s perspectives and thoughts on our current way of living, even after 40 years have passed.