Munakata Shiko (1903-1975), an iconic woodblock artist of modern times

(Posted on December 13, 2023)

            Salasvati, Goddess of the Arts created in 1965. This print was used

           for a postal stamp.

 

On November 19, 2023, I visited the National Museum of Modern Art,

Tokyo, which exhibited the works of Munakata Shiko for celebrating the

120th anniversary of the artist’s birth. Munakata was greatly inspired by

Vincent van Gogh. Let me show you one of Munakata’s masterpieces, “Two

Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Buddha”, created in 1939 and

a selection is shown below. 

Self portrait

 

Munakata was short-sighted to such an extent that whenever he carved a woodblock, he held it only a few centimeters from his face, if not touching it. He lost his left eyesight. To end this blog, I would like to refer to the inscription on his gravestone (my own translation):

 

“You may be surprised, but to its full extent, never;

  You may enjoy yourself, but to its full extent, never;

    You may be sad, but to its full extent, never;

      You may be in love, but to its full extent, never;

          Life is, after all, infinite.”

 

 

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