Saitō Kiyoshi’s (1907–1997) keen sense of design, superb technique and engagement with an appealing variety of 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.
Presenting recent donations of artworks by Saitō from Charles and Robyn Citrin to The Ringling and other collections, Saitō Kiyoshi: Graphic Awakening is the first comprehensive exhibition of this artist’s work in the United States. 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.
The exhibition is accompanied by a 200-page illustrated catalogue edited by Rhiannon Paget and with essays by Paul Binnie, Noriko Kuwahara, Rhiannon Paget, and Judith A. Stubbs, and published by Scala.
Shinadera, Nagasaki, designed in 1955, printed 1956
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
60 × 84 cm (23 5/8 × 33 1/16 in.)
The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Gift of Charles and Robyn Citrin, 2014, SN11412.83
Paid for in part by Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax revenues
Support for this exhibition was provided by the Arthur F and Ulla R Searing Ringling Endowment.