Shikō Munakata: A Way of Seeing presents nearly 100 works by the celebrated artist Shikō Munakata (1903–1975) from Japan Society’s rare collection — the largest Munakata collection in the United States. Primarily known for his expressive woodblock prints, this exhibition reveals the breadth of Munakata’s oeuvre, which included prints, 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 at Japan Society is his complete Tōkaidō Series (1964), a set of 61 newly rediscovered prints that depict scenes the artist witnessed while traveling along the important coastal route between Tokyo and Kyoto, which he extended to the city of Osaka. They will be on view together as a full set for the first time since 1965.

No matter the medium, Munakata’s artistic explorations were characterized by a spirited curiosity and relentless experimentation. He incorporated a vast array of sources and inspiration in his works, including Japanese folk tales, Buddhism, Western literature and poetry, and nature motifs, all of which are represented in the exhibition.

Shikō Munakata: A Way of Seeing underscores the artist’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. The exhibition design is by New York- and Barcelona-based MAIO Architects, with graphic design by Eline Mul.

Shikō Munakata: A Way of Seeing is on view through March 20, 2022, at Japan Society Gallery (333 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017).

For more information, visit japansociety.org.

The Latest