KIYOSHI SAITO, 1907-1997
Kiyoshi Saito (1907-1997) is world renowned as one of the giants of Japanese printmaking, credited with popularizing modern Japanese prints the world over. A leader in the early Sosaku-hanga (creative print) movement, Saito's works have a boldly simple style, with flat areas of color and solid textures which are the result of his search for the essentials of nature. Unlike most printmakers, Saito usually made his color prints from a single block of wood and used unusual tools to carve the blocks, often scratching and picking at the wood rather than cutting and chiseling. Saito would often make a number of impressions of the same color to get the depth of tone he wanted, imbuing the limited palette and simple forms with unusual richness. Saito's images show a poetic sensitivity to his subjects and his medium and have a universal timelessness that will be admired for years to come. His works are displayed in major museums, public, private and corporate collections worldwide. The Kiyoshi Saito Museum, established in Saito's hometown of Aizu, Fukushima Prefecture, is dedicated to sharing his magnificent art with the world.
Saito moved from the Fukushima prefecture to Tokyo in 1932, where he studied Western-style painting at the Hongo Painting Institute. While exhibiting his oil paintings, he began making woodblock prints by cutting and printing progressively from a single block. He used unusual tools to carve his blocks, often scratching and picking at the wood rather than cutting and chiseling it. Saito would often make a number of impressions of the same color to get depth of tone he wanted, imbuing the limited palette and simple forms with unusual richness.
In 1948, Saito exhibited at the Salon Printemps, and in 1951 received first prize for Steady Gaze at the inaugural Sao Paolo Bienniale. He was then featured in Statler's, Modern Japanese Print: An Art Reborn (1956), and was invited to visit the USA by the State Department and the Asia Foundation in 1956. From that year onward, Saito exhibited widely throughout the USA and Europe. Saito made a woodblock print of Prime Minister Eisaku Sato for the cover of Time Magazine in 1967.
In his later years he moved on to figure subjects then to Buddist subjects and the building and culture of Kyoto, influenced by the works of Mondrian. Saito's prints, with their flat areas of color and solid textures were the result of his search for the essentials of nature. A rather prolific and popular artist, Saito also did such varied images as cats, dachshunds, Maiko dancers, nude women, haniwa burial figures, and imagery inspired by travels in the USA, Mexico and Europe.
New York City
Sao Paulo, Brazil--award winner
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Cairo, Egypt--prize winner
Corcoran Gallery, Washington, DC
Ljubljana, Yugoslavia--award winner
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Cincinnati Art Museum
Miami Art Museum
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Museum of Modern Art, New York City
National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo
Achenbach Foundation, Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco
Philadelphia Museum of Art
New York Public Library
Art Institute of Chicago
Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art