Born in Minnesota in 1927, Clifton Karhu was one of the most celebrated woodblock print makers of the modern era. He didn’t find himself interested in the style of woodblock printmaking until around 1963 when he was introduced to them in an old residence of the Japanese Emperor. Stationed at a Navy base located in Japan, he began collecting woodblock prints and soon found himself creating this artwork which made him well known.
He has a unique approach and style which is truly identifiable when appreciating his work and is one of the few Western artists who really broke through and was recognized as a master in the style of Japanese woodblock prints.
He lived permanently in Japan and became the head of the Japan Print Society of the Kyoto branch. His education background includes schooling at the Minneapolis Art School for two years. He was a missionary for a short period of time, but decided to move back to art as it was a practice which was more fulfilling to him. He won the Chubu Taiheijo Bijutsu Kyokai Ten award in 1961 which is only one of the many accolades which he has received, and is also the first time he had his art displayed in a museum.
Currently his art is in the collections of many museums including the Cincinnati Museum, Spencer Museum of Art, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Minneapolis Institute of Art, as well as in many galleries and prominent private collections. Most all of the Clifton Karhu’s prints are of typical Japanese scenes, but elicit a different feel to them than what you’d normally find with other artists.