Master of Silence: Matsumoto Shunsuke’s Muon no f?kei and His Quiet Resistance to Sens?ga During the Fifteen-Year War


Matsumoto Shunsuke
World War II
War Art

How to Cite

Steiner, H. “Master of Silence: Matsumoto Shunsuke’s Muon No f?kei and His Quiet Resistance to Sens?Ga During the Fifteen-Year War”. Mutual Images Journal, no. 5, Dec. 2018, pp. 85-104, doi:10.32926/2018.5.ste.mast.


This article is focused on the wartime works of Japanese artist Matsumoto Shunsuke (1912-1948). In particular, it examines his Muon no f?kei (silent landscapes) series from 1941-1945 and the artist’s motivations behind choosing to depict everyday street scenes in Japan during the Fifteen-Year War (1931-1945). The war was a difficult time for most artists; they were either forced to conform to social and governmental pressures to paint sens?ga (war paintings), or they had to virtually stop production rather than run the risk of being arrested. Matsumoto Shunsuke was one of the few painters to focus on individual expression and everyday life scenes during this period. He spent much of Japan’s war wandering the streets, sketching and taking photographs that would later become the templates for his landscapes. The study of wartime art in Japan is still a relatively new topic, but much speculation has been given to Matsumoto’s works as symbols of anti-war resistance. However, the artist’s motivations were far more complex. This paper will explore Matsumoto’s alienation from Japanese society due to his deafness and artistic principles and how these factors, along with his political disagreements with the government and other artists, led him away from sens?ga and instead towards the silent landscapes that have today become some of the most popular paintings from the era.
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