No Footprints Show Where Flowers Are Deep

Shikō Munakata, Japanese, 1903 - 1975

Geography:
Made in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America

Period:
Shöwa Period (1926-1989)

Date:
1959

Medium:
Ink on paper; mounted as a hanging scroll

Dimensions:
53 x 13 3/4 inches (134.6 x 34.9cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1974-179-5

Credit Line:
Gift of Carl Zigrosser, 1974

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Label:
The six characters on this hanging scroll translate as “no footprints show where flowers are deep.” The thick, almost abstract lines of the calligraphy seem to burst beyond the surface of the paper, and were executed with slashing strokes of the brush in a furious burst of speed and with the intense concentration and power that distinguished Munakata's work.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Often considered the greatest artist of woodblock prints in the twentieth century, Munakata Shikö, who in 1956 was the first Japanese winner of the Venice Biennale, brought the same force and energy shown in his prints to this six-character ink calligraphy done while he was visiting Philadelphia in 1959. Shikö's devotion to the folk idiom of his native Japan, as well as to Zen Buddhism, are expressed in this inscription. The exact source of the line is not known, but it is probably from a Zen aphorism, and may be rendered in English as, "No footprints show where flowers grow deep." The thick, almost abstract lines of the calligraphy seem to burst beyond the surface of the paper, and were executed with slashing strokes of the brush in a furious burst of speed and with the intense concentration and power that distinguished all Munakata Shikö's work. Felice Fischer, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 47.