About this artwork
This and the other 61 prints in the series were the result of seven sketching trips along the Tôkaidô Road that Munakata Shikô undertook between April 1963 and February 1964. The Tôkaidô Road connected Tokyo (then Edo) to Kyoto in the premodern period, and its scenery and post towns were immortalized by print artists such as Utagawa Hiroshige. Taking the idea of Hiroshige’s famous series Fifty-Three Stations of the Tôkaidô Road as his basis, Munakata set out to capture the humanity of encounters along the road from a modern perspective. Hara: A Line at the Foot of Mount Fuji is the artist’s emotional response to the wonderment and magnitude of Japan’s highest peak.
Munakata Shikô (1903-75) was one of the most distinguished Japanese printmakers of the twentieth century, renowned for combining bold imagery with traditional subject matter. Born in the remote northern province of Aomori, Munakata moved to Tokyo and became a member of the Creative Print (Sôsaku Hanga) movement. In contrast to the collaborative process of traditional ukiyo-e, Creative Print artists designed, carved, and printed their own woodblocks. Within this movement, Munakata developed his own exhuberant style of printmaking. Extremely nearsighted, he kept his face almost at the surface of the woodblock when carving, and could rarely view his art in its entirety. Yet he worked with an intutive spontaneity, wielding his carving tools with great speed.
Munakata frequently drew his inspiration from traditional sources, such as Japanese mythology, theater, and literature. As he became involved with the twentieth-century Japanese Folk Art (Mingei) movement, Munakata also began to expore Buddhist imagery. He frequently included the word "stake" (saku, an offering of Buddhist pilgrims) in his titles, thus associationg his printmaking with a Buddhist devotional act. As Munakata wrote, "At every stage in my career I like to leave behind a print or picture as if I were offering a prayer." Munakata’s approach and subject matter distinguish him from his Creative Print contemporaries, who favored figural studies and landscapes.
Munakata’s mastery of the woodblock medium was internationally recognized. He garnered top honors at several print biennials in the 1950s and received the highest artistic accolades in his own country.
Currently Off View
- Arts of Asia
- Munakata Shikô
- Hara: A Line at the Foot of Mt. Fuji (Suso ichimonji), No. 14 from the series "Munakata's Tokaido (Tokaido Munakata hanga)"
- Woodblock print; edition 5/10
- 48.5 × 61.0 cm (19 1/16 × 24 in.)
- Japanese Print Purchase Fund