Shikō Munakata: A Way of Seeing

Shikō Munakata: A Way of Seeing
December 10, 2021—March 20, 2022

This new presentation of nearly 100 path-breaking works by celebrated artist Shikō Munakata (1903-1975) is organized from Japan Society’s rare collection—the largest Munakata collection in the United States. Primarily known for his powerfully expressive woodblock prints, this exhibition reveals the breadth of Munakata’s oeuvre, which spanned from prints to calligraphy, sumi ink paintings, watercolors, lithography, and ceramics.

With his bold, spontaneous, and sketch-like lines, Munakata developed an innovative style that revolutionized the woodblock print. A highlight of the installation is his complete Tōkaidō Series (1964), a set of 61 newly rediscovered prints that depict scenes the artist witnessed while traveling along the vital coastal route between Tokyo and Kyoto, which Munakata extended to Osaka. This full set will be on view for the first time since 1965.

No matter the medium, Munakata’s artistic explorations were characterized by a spirited curiosity and relentless experimentation. Munakata incorporated diverse sources and inspiration in his dynamic works, including Japanese folk tales, Buddhism, Western literature and poetry, and nature motifs, represented by works in the exhibition. The exhibition underscores Munakata’s first visit to the United States in 1959 as a Fellow in Japan Society’s Print Artists Program, and includes works he made expressly for Japan Society during his time in New York. Original, experiential exhibition design is by New York- and Barcelona-based MAIO Architects, with graphic design by Eline Mul.

Exhibition 3D Tour

Exhibition-Related Events

Top image: Shikō Munakata, Mukō-machi: Crossing Point of Highways, from the Tōkaidō Series, 1964 (detail). Photograph by Nicholas Knight and Eline Mul. Collection of Japan Society. © Shikō Munakata

Shikō Munakata: A Way of Seeing is supported, in part, by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation, Shigesuke and Noriko Kashiwagi, and The American Chai Trust. Special thanks to Sondra Castile, and the Family of Beate Sirota Gordon.

Exhibitions and Arts & Culture Lecture Programs at Japan Society are made possible, in part, by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund; the Mary Griggs Burke Endowment Fund established by the Mary Livingston Griggs and Mary Griggs Burke Foundation; The Masako Mera and Koichi Mera, PhD Fund for Education and the Arts; Masako H. Shinn; Peggy and Dick Danziger; Raphael and Jane Bernstein; Friends of the Gallery; and an anonymous donor. Support for Arts & Culture Lecture Programs is provided, in part, by the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund. Transportation assistance is provided by Japan Airlines, the exclusive Japanese airline sponsor for Japan Society gallery exhibitions.