Saitō Kiyoshi’s (1907–1997) keen sense of design, superb technique, and engagement with an variety of appealing themes made him one of the best known and most popular Japanese print artists of the twentieth century.
In the wake of the Second World War, Saitō emerged as a seminal figure of the modernist creative print movement, in which artists claimed complete authorship of their work by carving and printing their own designs. He flourished as the movement attracted patrons among members of the occupying forces and, later, Western travelers for business and pleasure. Honors at the 1951 São Paulo Biennial launched him and the creative print movement to prominence at home and abroad. When new diplomatic ties between the U.S. and Japan provided opportunities for Japanese artists to exhibit, teach, and live abroad, Saitō was among the first to do so, thus further broadening his audience.
Celebrating a gift of over 100 prints by Saitō from members Charles and Robyn Citrin, The Ringling Museum of Art opened Saitō Kiyoshi: Graphic Awakening in March 2021 — the first major survey of the artist’s work since his death. The exhibition focuses on prints Saitō created in the 1940s and 50s, arguably the most vibrant period of his career, and includes several rare, early designs.
Rhiannon Paget, the curator of the exhibition, will discuss key themes in Saitō’s work, his skilful negotiation of his medium, and his shifting approaches to composition, color, and texture.
Image: Winter in Aizu, ca. 1938–40, Woodblock print; ink on paper. 37.5 x 45.4 cm (14 3/4 × 17 5/8 in.) Elias Martin Collection
This event is co-sponsored by the USC Pacific Asia Museum. Entrance to the Museum is free with your RSVP. Please feel free to arrive early to view the galleries.