Meet North Korea’s art dealer to the West
CNN Style | Hannah Ritchie
In a sleepy town in Tuscany, over 8,000 kilometers from Pyongyang, you can find one of the West’s largest collections of North Korean art. The man behind the operation, Pier Luigi Cecioni, has been bringing North Korean artworks to Pontassieve — a small commune just a stone’s throw from Florence — for over 10 years. The pieces in his collection all come from the same Pyongyang art studio, Mansudae. With an estimated 4,000 employees, it is the largest state-run art house in North Korea — and one of the largest art production centers in the world. Cecioni formed his working relationship with Mansudae back in 2005, when, during an official tour of the country with an Italian orchestra, he asked to look at some North Korean art.
“Once I was there, I said, ‘I’m actually very interested in art — do you have anything to show me?'” Cecioni said in his studio. “They brought me to Mansudae’s studio. Nobody had ever heard of it (in) the West, so I asked them whether they would they be interested in doing some business in the West, and they said ‘sure.'” With over 1.2 million square feet of studio space, Mansudae produces an array of artworks, including woodcuts, oil paintings, charcoal drawings, embroideries and even jeweled paintings made from semi-precious stones. Cecioni sells them all, with prices ranging from $300 to $7,000, depending on the size and detail of the work. The best-sellers, he explained, have been hand-painted propaganda posters, which are the most affordable and have proven popular with art collectors…read more
Image: Mansudae produces an array of artworks, including woodcuts, oil paintings, charcoal drawings, embroideries and even jeweled paintings.