Risaburo Kimura

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Risaburo Kimura (Japan, 1924-2014) was a 20th century modernist artist. Kimura is known for his series “Great Cities of the World,” which depicted imaginative abstract and colorful cityscapes through his mastery of serigraph and lithograph printmaking techniques.

Risaburo Kimura was born in 1924 in Yokosuka City in the region of Kanagawa, Japan. In 1947, Kimura received a degree in education at Yokohama University. In 1954, he attended Hosei University in Tokyo and received a degree in philosophy. At Hosei University, Kimura studied under artist Tetsuzo Tanikawa (1895-1989) and aspired to have a career as an art critic. However, Kimura decided to change directions and take on painting. However, the young painter soon met artist Teijiro Kubo and Masuo Ikeda (1934-1997), learning various printmaking methods.

A master of serigraph, Kimura was a pivotal artist in revitalizing the traditional Japanese methods of printmaking. Serigraphy is a technique of silkscreen printing - seri, which is Latin for “silk,” and graphos, translated from Greek for “writing.” Serigraph printmaking became popularized after American and British pop and modern artists produced large-scale work using the contemporary technique.

In 1964, Kimura moved to New York and established a print studio in Manhattan. Around this time, the artist embarked on his most well-known series, “Great Cities of the World,” which included 400 different depictions and scenes of developed cities. The cities that he rendered were imagined fictional cities with some elements, and even titles, of existing cities around the world. Kimura used an array of bright colors and combined serigraph and lithograph printmaking techniques to achieve depth in each image. Kimura’s images showed abstracted and reduced shapes to form the architectural depictions. The series took Kimura a little over three years to complete because he drew and cut each image himself.   

Risaburo Kimura showed his work in many international exhibitions at institutions like the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Brooklyn Museum, Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, Japan. He also exhibited his work at the Print Biennale of Tokyo and at various print festivals in Paris, Brazil, Italy, Belgium, and Mexico City.

Risaburo Kimura passed away in New York in 2014. His work can be found in numerous collections and major museums worldwide including the Philadelphia Art Museum, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), The Brooklyn Museum, I.B.M. World Trade Corporations Headquarters in New York, Cincinnati Art Museum, La Tertulia Museum in Colombia, National Museum of Modern Art in Kyoto, and the Kyoto City Hall in Japan.