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Shiko Munakata's career

Chronicles

1903~1928
▲1924 about 21 years of age.
1903

September 5—Munakata Shiko was born in Japan's Aomori prefecture.

1916(13 years old)

Graduated from Aomori Municipal Elementary School and worked as a home-job assistant for blacksmith.

1920 (17 years old)

Serves as a clerk at the Aomori District Courthouse. Starts sketching and drawing in his spare time. October 25—His mother, Sada, dies of liver cancer at age forty-one.

1921 (18 years old)

Munakata aspires to become an oil painter after seeing a Van Gogh sunflower painting on a magazine cover; he paints his first work in oil. Organizes a "Western-style" painting group with three former middle-school classmates from Aomori.

1924 (21 years old)

Moves to Tokyo to pursue a career in painting; sketches scenes of the city after the devastating Kanto earthquake of 1923. Enters an oil painting, produced in Aomori, in the fifth Imperial Fine Arts Exhibition (known familiarly as the Teiten exhibition) but is unsuccessful; continues to be rejected until 1928.

1925 (22 years old)

October 26—His father, Kokichi, passes away at age fifty-six.

1928 (25 years old)

His oil paintings are selected for the ninth Teiten exhibition for the first time. Munakata returns to Aomori after four years to visit his parents' graves.

1929~1941
▲1942 about 39 years of age.
1930 (27 years old)

Exhibits three oil paintings and two woodblock prints in the seventh Hakujitsu Group Exhibition and wins the Hakujitsu Award. Displays four prints in the fifth Kokugakai (Society for national painting) exhibition. Marries Akagi Chiya, a nurse from his hometown, at the Uto¯ Shrine in Aomori City. Due to economic hardship, Chiya remains in Aomori when Munakata returns to Tokyo.

1931 (28 years old)

Keyou, first daughter, was born. Exhibits an oil painting in the twelfth Teiten exhibition for the first time in three years.

1932 (29 years old)

Holds second solo exhibition, featuring thirty oil painting sand ten prints. Is invited to join the Japanese Print Association. Exhibits the two Hasegawa mansion prints, Gappo Park in Aomori, and A Garden at Kamo in Echigo Province in the seventh Kokugakai exhibition;wins the Kokugakai prize for The Hasegawa Mansion at Kameda:

1933 (30 years old)

Pariji, first son, was born.

1935 (32 years old)

Chiyoe, second daughter, was born.

1936 (33 years old)

Shows The Life of Prince Yamatotakeru, the Japanese Hero at the eleventh Kokugakai exhibition; becomes known to Mingei (folk crafts) leaders Hamada Shoji, Yanagi Soetsu, and Kawai Kanjiro.

1938 (35 years old)

The Story of the Cormorant in the spring exhibition of the Japan Folk Crafts Museum. Exhibits nine prints from The Story of the Cormorant in the second New Ministry of Education Fine Arts Exhibition (Shinbunten); wins prize in print division of the Kanten exhibition. Munakata, who was working on color prints at this time, is inspired by Yanagi Soetsu to experiment with urazaishiki ("back-coloring") technique. Presents The Many Aspects of Compassionate Avalokitesvara, the first work in which he used back-coloring, in a special exhibition at the Japan Folk Crafts Museum.

1940 (37 years old)

Two Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni is shown at the fifteenth Kokugakai exhibition.

1941 (38 years old)

Receives Kokugakai's fifth Saburi Award for Two Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni. (The Saburi Award was created in 1937 in memory of painter Saburi Shin to encourage new and rising Japanese artists working in Western-style painting.) Yoshiaki, second son, was born.

1942~1956
▲1949 46 years of age.
1945 (42 years old)

His family is evacuated to Fukumitsu in Toyama prefecture. His house in Yoyogi is burned in a Tokyo air raid, destroying almost all his prewar woodblocks and works.

1946 (43 years old)

Exhibits four prints from the series In Praise of Shokei, the Kiln of Kawai Kanjiro in the second Japan Art Academy Exhibition (Nitten) and wins the Okada Prize.

1948 (45 years old)

Presents several works at the twenty-second Kokugakai exhibition, including the newly made Manjusri and Samantabhadra, which were lost in the air raid during the carving of the series Two Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni.

1951 (48 years old)

Moves from Fukumitsu to the former atelier of Suzuki Shintaro, scholar of French literature, in Ogikubo, Suginami Ward, Tokyo.

1952 (49 years old)

Shows Women, Merciful Avalokitesvaras at the second International Print Exhibition in Lugano, Switzerland, and becomes the first Japanese artist to be given the Award of Excellence.

1955 (52 years old)

Exhibits Two Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni and Three Women Rising, Three Women Sinking in the third São Paulo Biennale and wins first prize in the print category, the Medal Luzica Matarazzo (named after Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho, who established the Biennale).

1956 (53 years old)

Shows Compositions on Tanizaki Jun'ichiro's Poems and two abstract folding screens at the sixth Japan Woodblock Print Society exhibition. Enters eleven works, including Two Bodhisattva and Ten Great Disciples of Sakyamuni; In Praise of Great Joy: On Beethoven's Ninth Symphony; Three Women Rising, Three Women Sinking; and Nature through the Twelve Months, in the twenty-eighth Venice Biennale and wins grand prize in the print division.

1957~1968
▲1959 56 years of age.
1958 (55 years old)

Presents The Heart Sutra (second series) for an international show of contemporary Japanese paintings sponsored by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. (This exhibition, which featured forty-two Japanese artists of Japanese- and Western-style paintings and woodblock prints, opened in Rome on April 15 and traveled to eleven cities in six countries, including Germany, France, Yugoslavia, Egypt, and Iran.)

1959 (56 years old)

Travels to the United States at the invitation of the Rockefeller Foundation and the Japan Society. Lectures at universities in New York, Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, Seattle, and San Francisco and holds solo exhibitions in New York and Boston. Opens Munakata Shiko Gallery in New York. Travels to Europe for about a month, and visits museums in the Netherlands, France, Spain, Italy, and Switzerland, and Van Gogh's grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, outside Paris.

1960 (57 years old)

Opens exhibition of ninety-six works (including eighty-eight prints) at the Cleveland Museum of Art; the show tours Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Is presented with the Aomori Prefectural Award. His eyesight, which had been in decline since earlier in the year, worsens. Although Munakata had been going to the hospital for treatment, by autumn he loses almost all sight in his left eye.

1963 (60 years old)

Receives the Blue Ribbon Medal from the Japanese government. A Munakata print gallery is established at the Ohara Museum of Art (Kurashiki, Okayama prefecture); it opens to the public on January 4, 1964.

1965 (62 years old)

Receives the Asahi Newspaper Culture Prize for his distinguished achievements in Japanese woodblock printmaking. Goes to the United States for the second time upon invitation from Washington University in St. Louis. Receives an honorary doctorate in the humanities from Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire), where he lectures on woodblock prints and exhibits his Tokaido series. Receives the Blue Ribbon Medal for donating works to the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

1967 (64 years old)

Becomes an honorary member of the Japan Woodblock Print Society. Goes to the United States for the third time to open solo exhibitions. Department Store in Cleveland opens a Munakata exhibition featuring twenty sets of folding screens. This show travels to the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.) and the Brooklyn Museum (New York).

1968 (65 years old)

Opens exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum featuring twenty folding screens. Lectures on woodblock prints at the University of Hawaii. Attends celebration commemorating seventy years of Aomori's city government and receives citizen's award for his achievements.

1969~1975
▲1968 65 years of age.
1969 (66 years old)

The city celebrates the opening of the building, makes Munakata an "Honorary Citizen," and opens a special exhibition.

1970 (67 years old)

Receives the Order of Cultural Merit and is honored for his distinguished achievements.

1973 (70 years old)

The Munakata Foundation is established.

1974 (71 years old)

Receives the twenty-fifth Broadcasting Cultural Award from NHK (for giving new appeal to educational programs). Travels to Aomori. Inspired by Van Gogh's grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, Munakata chooses his own grave and writes an epitaph. The Munakata Museum opens in Kamakura. Munakata celebrates his seventy-first birthday.

1975 (72 years old)

Nitten appoints him as a trustee. Becomes the standing director of Nitten. September 13—Munakata dies of liver cancer at his home in Ogikubo, Suginami Ward, Tokyo. November 17—The Munakata Shiko Memorial Museum of Art opens in Aomori.

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