MUNAKATA SHIKO (1903-1975)
MUNAKATA SHIKO (1903-1975)
MUNAKATA SHIKO (1903-1975)
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MUNAKATA SHIKO (1903-1975)
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MUNAKATA SHIKO (1903-1975)

Tsuikai Munakata hanga Tokaido myotai byobu (Additions on Munakata prints: the grandiose beauty of Tokaido)

MUNAKATA SHIKO (1903-1975)
Tsuikai Munakata hanga Tokaido myotai byobu (Additions on Munakata prints: the grandiose beauty of Tokaido)
Woodblock print, sumizuri-e, a complete set of 67 sheets, each signed, numbered, titled in pencil and sealed, with three opening and two ending pages
Alternating horizontal and vertical designs, 16 1⁄2 x 20 5⁄8 in. (41.9 x 52.4 cm.) each approx.
(67)With original wood box, titled, inscribed Toyuseibotsu Showa yonjushichi nen yoshifuyu shiwasu ichijoji (Sun rise up in East down in West, carved in December, good winter of 1972), signed Hogan Munakata Shiko Shinkai jidai (True view and self-inscribed by Hogen Munakata Shiko Shinkai), sealed Munakata Shiko, Kegon and an illegible seal; navy paper cover box with title slip sealed Munakata Shiko and another seal
Acquired from Munakata Pariji (1903-1998), 1972

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Lot Essay

The 1970 Order of Culture and Person of Cultural Merit receiver Munakata Shiko, did not create a series of landscape based on real scene sketches until 1963, at age 60.
Born into a blacksmith family in the Aomori Prefecture of Northeast Japan, Munakata was attracted by strong colors – red, orange, yellow, blue and purple. These were the colors of the flames of a big fire disaster that occurred in 1910, when Munakata was 6. These vibrant colors were deeply rooted into his head, and explained his fascination with Van Gogh. However, Munakata suffered from serious short-sightedness as a child, which eventually became an obstacle to his abilities in Western art skills such as perspective and realistic depiction. Remaining passionate after years of an unsuccessful art career, the artist eventually realized his art path belonged to woodblock print. This medium optimized his talent, astonished Western viewers in the 1955 São Paulo Biennale and 1956 Venice Biennale, and won him a Grand Prix of the international division.
In 1963, the celebrated artist received a commission from Suruga Bank. The result was Munakata’s first Tokaido series, and the first series he made out of real scene sketches.
Tokaido was an extensively interpreted theme of Edo Period woodblock prints, represented by Utagawa Hiroshige’s (1797-1858) Tokaido gojusan tsugi no uchi (Fifty-three stations of the Tokaido). Unlike Hiroshige’s focus on depicting the landscape and nature, Munakata aimed to demonstrate the landscape as a stage for humanity, where humans develop and progress throughout their everyday life. The series is a presentation of how human activities impact the looks of landscape. The contrast between Hiroshige and Munakata’s focuses on the same theme is also a fascinating reflection of the change in human-to-nature relationships in modern Japan.
The present lot is a version out of Munakata’s revisit of this series in 1966. Munakata made new designs of 62 landscapes in this tsukai (addition or second time) version based on his sketches from 1963.
Munakata’s Tokaido illustrated the modernization of Japan. In No. 2 Shinagawa, the geometric lines present a modern bridge with westerners, distinguishing the landscape from Hiroshige’s depiction of the place (see Lot 205). The most well-known design in the series is No. 14, Hara. The simplified form and lines suggest Munakata’s talent of extracting the essence of an object and transforming it into a subjective yet precise idea.
While it is unclear in the 1966 issued Tokaido series, the present lot comes with two hand-written opening pages with a revised title and date (April 28, 1972) in addition to the printed title page, which also contains different seals from the 1966 one. There are two newly designed closing pages; there was only one in the 1966 version. The last page was dated early summer 1972. The original box was dated December 1972, perhaps suggesting the time when the entire series was completed.

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