Beginning in the 1970s, in response to the early appreciation expressed in reviews of his artwork appearing in The New York Times, artist Nam June Paik mailed a stream of materials to the Times’ television critic John J. O’Connor. In one of his earlier letters, Paik declared O’Connor “the savior of video art itself.” For more than two decades Paik kept him abreast of his thoughts, work, and travels.
“To John J. O’Connor from Nam June Paik” comprises a selection to the letters, drawings, postcards, holiday greetings, and annotated books and articles sent by Paik and set aside by O’Connor over the years. Serious, yet full of whimsy, they remain as telling and delightful as they were when they were meant to charm a newspaper reviewer. They offer an insight into the long-term working relationship of a significant and groundbreaking artist and an important and influential critic of his work.
The exhibition, which includes a sampling of O’Connor’s writing on Paik as well as an example of Paik’s work that was broadcast on television, is a fascinating record of the mutual appreciation of an artist and critic. It is timed to coincide with and commemorate the first anniversary of the death of John J. O’Connor.
Nam June Paik (1932-2006) was a leading exponent of media-based art. He has had a profound influence on art, video and television.
John J. O’Connor (1933-2009) was television critic of The New York Times from 1971 to 1997. Before that he had been arts editor of the Wall Street Journal.
The exhibit was organized by Seymour Barofsky, a former editor (Schocken Books, Random House, etc.) and teacher.