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Munakata Shikō: Japanese Master of the Modern Print

July 27–November 10, 2002

Munakata Shikō (1903–1975), an artist admired throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States, receives his first comprehensive retrospective outside Japan at the museum. Munakata is celebrated as one of Japan’s most significant modern print artists of the twentieth century. More than 100 prints from all phases of the artist’s career, along with a selection of his paintings, calligraphy, and ceramics, are on view.


There is a definitive, bilingual catalogue accompanying the exhibition co-authored by Dr. Felice Fischer, Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Robert T. Singer, Curator and Head, Japanese Art Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); Hollis Goodall, Associate Curator of Japanese Art at LACMA; and Kawai Masatomo, Professor of Japanese Art History at Keio University, Tokyo, and a leading scholar in Japanese ink-painting studies.

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art: July 27–November 10, 2002
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art: December 5, 2002–March 2, 2003

Main Building

About the Artist

Born the son of a blacksmith in the northern prefecture of Aomori in 1903, Munakata left in 1924 for Tokyo to pursue a career in art. While equally skilled as a painter in oils and sumi ink, Munakata first gained international acclaim through his woodcut prints, winning top prizes at the Sao Paulo Biennale in 1955 and the Venice Biennale of 1956. Munakata revolutionized the concept of the woodblock print, liberating it from the small-scale ukiyo-e format, and creating large-size pieces for screens and wall murals. He used nature, Buddhism, folk tales, contemporary poetry, even Western literature for his subjects, transforming them into his unique, dynamic woodcuts, ink paintings, calligraphies, and ceramics.

On his first visit to the United States in 1959, Munakata worked with Philadelphia artist Arthur Flory to create his first series of lithographs, which will be shown only in Philadelphia. Munakata was a prolific artist who worked with legendary speed and spontaneity, celebrating the world around him.


This exhibition was organized by the Munakata Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. In-kind support was provided by Japan Airlines. In Philadelphia, the exhibition was made possible through the generous support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation and The Hollis-Baldeck Fund.


Dr. Felice Fischer, Luther W. Brady Curator of Japanese Art and Curator of East Asian Art; John Ittmann, Curator of Prints

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