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Woodblock printing and "spontaneous creation" are not terms that often go together. The laborious nature of creating and preparing a woodblock for printing would seem to preclude any sort of spontaneity, except perhaps for the occasional unfortunate accident while cutting the block. But Shiko Munakata prized the immediate as a vital part of his artistic process, and he crafted his woodblocks quickly and with vigorous enthusiasm. Munakata's spirit and energy are readily visible in his finished prints: In Praise of Flower Hunting, a four-foot-by-five-foot print (made in fourteen sections) of mounted hunters racing through a field of flowers, crackles with a vitality that belies the static nature of the work. The three hunters stretch from their stylized horses with a palpable sense of delight, their accompanying trio of contorted hunting dogs trapped in mid-spring. In Praise of Flower Hunting is breathtaking in its kinetic impact, a swift riot of movement coalescing in a single, vivid scene. The Saint Louis Art Museum in Forest Park (314-721-0072 or www.slam.org) opened Shiko Munakata, a special exhibition of Munakata's prints and drawings, on Friday, July 14, in Gallery 321. Admission is free, and the exhibit remains on display through Sunday, October 22.
July 14-Oct. 22

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