Kiyoshi Saitō

Kiyoshi Saitō (Japanese, 1907-1997)
Solitude, Kyoto, 1948
Color woodblock print
Gift of the Rodbell Family Collection, 2014.16.53

While artists like Hasui and Hiroshi championed the shin-hanga movement in the 1930s and 1940s, another printing tradition came to prominence in the early 1950s—sōsaku-hanga, or “original creative print.” Different from both ukiyo-e and shin-hanga, this movement emphasized personal expression of the artist, who not only created the design but also carved the woodblocks and printed the image. The artistic creativity stressed by sōsaku-hanga was directly inspired by Western printing traditions, which also celebrated the individual hand of the artist. In the 1950s, these prints grew in international popularity, possibly due to their range of non-sentimental, post-war subject matter rather than traditional idyllic landscapes or portraits. One of the movement’s initial promoters was Kiyoshi Saitō, a woodblock artist who worked on large-scale prints. Kiyoshi Saitō’s imagery focused on simplified and abstracted representations of Buddhist temple architecture and Buddhist clay sculpture images carved into the block in broad shapes and printed in muted, earthy tones.