The Largest Art Center in the World: the Mansudae Art Studio


With a labor force of approximately 4000 people, about 800 of which artists, and an area of over 120,000 square meters, 80,000 of which indoor, the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), is probably the largest art production center in the world.

It was founded on November 17, 1959, only six years after the end of the terrible Korean War (1950-1953) in which about 20% of the population of the country had died and most cities were completely destroyed.The Studio is divided into 13 creative groups, seven manufacturing plants and more than 50 supply departments. The artistic works produced at the Mansudae Art Studio range from oil paintings to bronze sculptures, from Korean Paintings (ink on paper) to ceramics, from woodcuts to embroideries, from jewel paintings (made with precious and semiprecious stones reduced to powder) to charcoal drawings and much more.The Mansudae Art Studio is not a sort of chain factory, like some Chinese and other Oriental centers, nor a school, but a very high-quality art production center. The vast majority of the major artworks of the country have been made by Mansudae Art Studio artists. Their ages go from mid 20’s to mid 60’s and almost all are graduates of the very demanding Pyongyang University. Over half of the Merit Artists and of the People’s Artists, the two highest awards an artist can receive in DPRK, are or have been associated with the Mansudae Art Studio.

All works shown on this website were bought by an Italian company before the UN sanctions went into effect, therefore they can be legally sold. All transactions are made with this company according to Italian (European) law.

How to buy a work

All works shown on this website are for sale. They belong to an Italian company and were purchased before the UN sanctions went into effect. To buy, first, use the form you can open below to ask about the work you are interested in (availability and price). Please provide your identification data (name, e-mail, address, phone number). Unidentified inquiries will not be answered.
Once you know if the work is available, you are satisfied with its price and you decide to buy, communicate your intention to reserve the work. Make the payment by PayPal or a bank transfer to the account you will be given. Once the payment is received the work will be shipped to you within five working days.
All transactions are made with an Italian company, not with any North Korean company. The transactions are regulated by Italian (European) law and shipping are made from Italy.

How to purchase

Do you want to hold an exhibition of North Korean art works?

Museums, galleries, public institutions interested in holding exhibitions can contact us to evaluate the possibilities and, in case, to define the projects. The requesting parties must have very good artistic and cultural reputation.

All agreements are managed by an Italian company and all direct contacts are with it. The works are shipped from Italy.


Korean Posters

Korean Posters

DPRK (North Korea) is the only country which still utilizes posters to convey social and political messages to its people.

A form of art in itself-- once popular in China and in the Soviet Union--these posters are hand-painted, typically using tempera, by artists most of which make also other kinds of paintings. Besides their artistic value, these posters, with their writings and their messages, offer a view on the unique North Korean society and have a strong political interest.

The website presents a large selection of original North Korean posters for sale. All works belong to an Italian company and were purchased before the UN sanctions went into effect.

North Korea: a Unique Country


Contemporary Artists from North Korea

A Unique Country

Luciano Benetton

Pier Luigi Cecioni
Luciano Benetton, Pier Luigi Cecioni, Eugenio Cecioni, Yang Byong Su
English, Korean, Italian

Pages: 468
Size: 21 x 20 cm
Year: 2014
Publisher: Fabrica, Italy

The catalog  North Korea: a Unique Country presents the 210 North Korean works created for the Luciano Benetton Collection--Imago Mundi.
A prominent feature is the works’ unusual size: they are all 10 x 12 cm. The reason for this choice is that Luciano Benetton—co-founder, co-owner and iconic figure of the Benetton Group—is aiming to realize, in effect, a world atlas of contemporary art by collecting a large number of works from as many countries as possible. The small size, the same for all countries (as is the approximate number of works for each country) reflects, first of all, a practical need: it would be almost impossible to collect thousands of art works of “normal” size. Moreover, this homogeneity allows a comparison, a more intense dialogue, among the different countries, especially when all the works of one country are inserted in the displays realized by the architect Tobia Scarpa, and then placed one next to the other.

The works for North Korea: a Unique Country have been realized at the Mansudae Art Studio, the Pyongyang art center where the vast majority of the most accomplished North Korean artists work. The techniques represented are virtually all those employed in the country: ink, oil, acrylic, woodcut, embroidery, drawing, tempera, calligraphy, watercolor and jewel painting. This last consists in using precious or semiprecious stones that are crushed and glued on a board or on a canvas, without the use of additional color.
The ages of the artists, all highly if not superbly skilled, range from 24 to 74.
These works themselves provide a panorama of the artistic production of the country while, of course, taking into account the aforementioned limitation that excludes those works for which size is an intrinsic element such as the characteristic very large and almost epic works, or many calligraphy works in which the gesture constitutes an essential part, or the propaganda posters whose text, if reduced to fit the size of the works, would become almost illegible.

The commentaries included in the catalog, which has been curated by Pier Luigi Cecioni, are  by Luciano Benetton, Pier Luigi Cecioni, Eugenio Cecioni and Yang Byong Su of the Mansudae Art Studio.

The catalog’s cover has been rendered from a poster, selected to convey a different image from the conventional ones of a country that is truly unique, perhaps the most unique of all.

Mansudae Art Studio

First Large Exhibition in the West

Genoa, Italy, May 17 - June 17, 2007

Contrary to other claims, the first large exhibition of the Mansudae Art Studio in the West —practically the first of North Korean artists—was held in Genoa, Italy, from May 17 to June 17, 2007, a project of the brothers Pier Luigi and Eugenio Cecioni. With more than 100 works, in a beautiful venue, curated by Pier Luigi Tazzi, an internationally famous contemporary art critic particularly expert in Eastern Art (among his many experiences, in 2003 he was one of the two curators of the inaugural exhibition of the Mori Museum in Tokyo), illustrated by a 200 pages catalog, this exhibition marked a grandiose entrance of North Korean art in the Western scene.
The exhibition was inaugurated at the presence of Kim Song Min, vice president of the Mansudae Art Studio and chairman of the DPRK Artists Association, Han Tae Song, Ambassador of DPRK in Italy, Senator Lamberto Dini who in 2000, as Italian Foreign Minister, recognized DPRK on behalf of Italy.

The Hermit Country -  Today’s Art from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

Project and management Pier Luigi Cecioni, Eugenio Cecioni
Curator Pier Luigi Tazzi
Image Angelo Plessas
Installation Gruppo A12
Coordination Elena Dall’Armi
Organization Andrea Cattaneo
Press Agent Edoardo Meoli

Cattaneo Adorno Palace and Doria Palace - Genoa, Italy, May 17 – June 17, 2007