Sosaku Hanga Artist

Japan

Kiyoshi Saitō is a Japanese was a modernist printmaker known for producing prints with a distinct, graphic flatness. Saitō was part of the sōsaku hanga (creative print) movement, meaning his work was self-drawn, self-carved and self-printed - an artistic process practiced by many modern Japanese artists as a collective departure from traditional publishing houses, which utilized a division of creative and labor art practices.

Works by Kiyoshi Saito

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Stone Garden Ryoanji by Kiyoshi Saito

Stone Garden Ryoanji by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Japanese woodblock print. Printed on Japanese paper. Dated 1955. Signed and sealed within the image. Limited edition numbered 91 of 150. Titled and dated in pencil in the lower margin. Title reads 'Stone Garden Kyoto 1955'.

Size: 15 1/8" h x 20 3/4" w (image), 23" h x 28 1/4" w (framed)
Condition: Good color and impression.

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New York A by Kiyoshi Saito

New York A by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Sosaku Hanga Japanese woodblock print. Rarely seen woodblock print depicting the stark concrete landscape of New York City contrasted by the vivid color of a red flower in the foreground. Signed by the artist in ink bottom right. Limited edition numbered 34 of 50. Dated 1963.

Size: 32" h x 26" w (framed)
Condition: Excellent.

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Two Children in the Snow by Kiyoshi Saito

Two Children in the Snow by Kiyoshi Saito. An early print by Saito most likely done as part of the Children in Aizu series in the mid 1940's. Pencil signed by the artist, along with the artist chop mark, in the bottom left corner.

Size: 11" w x 16 3/4" h
Condition: Very good. Strong image and impression. Some toning, foxing, rubbing on reverse edges.

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Hokkaido (B) by Kiyoshi Saito

Hokkaido (B) by Kiyoshi Saito. Rare Japanese woodblock print which is part of the Hokkaido series. Limited edition numbed 53 out of 200. The print is dated 1961 and is titled and signed by the artist in pencil.

Size: 23 3/4" w x 17 3/4" h
Condition: Excellent color and impression. Waviness to paper. Some creasing in margins. Slight toning to edges. Tape remnants to verso.

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Seine Paris by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Seine Paris by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Beautiful Japanese collagraph print. Tremendous work which pulls you into the image and connects you emotionally to its environment. Dated 1966. Limited edition 3 of 15.

Size: 17 1/2" h x 13" w
Condition: Very good impression. Very slight toning to the margins.

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Coral by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Coral by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). A beautiful profile image of a woman. Minimal and modern design which really accentuates the face. Signed in ink by the artist bottom left. Dated 1955. Limited edition numbered 90 of 100. Titled "Coral" in pencil.

Size: 
Condition: Excellent color & impression. Slight waviness to paper in margins. Slight creasing in margins. Tape remnants to top margin on verso.

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Girl C by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Girl C by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Japanese woodblock print depicting a close up profile of a girl. Signed in ink bottom right. Limited edition numbered 74 of 100. Dated 1967. Titled "Girl (C)". A beautiful modern work with strong colors and grain from the woodblock.

Size: 23 1/2" x 18 1/2"
Condition: Very good color and impression. Creasing to margins. Some waviness to paper in margins. Slight paper abrasions to verso. Some soiling to margins of verso due to previous matting.

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Carrying Water by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Carrying Water by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Sosaku hanga Japanese woodblock print depicting a man carrying water through a village. Unlimited edition. Circa 1950 - 1960s.

Size: 10 1/4" h x 14 7/8" w (image) + margins
Condition: Excellent.

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Maiko by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Maiko by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Sosaku hanga Japanese woodblock print depicting a seated Maiko with intricate features of her beautiful kimono. Printed circa 1960s. Unlimited edition print.

Curator's Note:

This is a beautiful interpretation of a maiko in her traditional dress. A maiko is the term for an apprentice geisha typically used in Kyoto and Western Japan. The maiko's job in traditional Japan was to entertain guests by serving tea, singing, dancing and playing the shamisen, which is a traditional 3 stringed musical instrument.

This specific work depicts the view of a Maiko from behind. This perspective leaves the viewer with the opportunity to truly appreciate the intricacy of the traditional hikizuri (kimono), as well as the darari obi, while adding a sense of intrigue and vulnerability to the subject. The isolated grey background allows the subject to sit alone without the need to define setting or occasion. A very engaging image.

Size: 15 1/4" h x 10" w (image) + margins.
Condition: Good overall. Light foxing on reverse outer edges.

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Child in Aizu by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Child in Aizu by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Original Japanese woodblock print. A heartwarming image depicting a young girl carrying her baby brother on her back. Pencil signed bottom right. Bears the artist's seal. Unlimited edition. Dates to circa 1940s.

Size: 17 1/2" h x 11 1/2" w
Condition: Good overall. Nice impression. Slight handling creases. Tape remnants to verso. Notes and additional printing stamp on verso.

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Persimmon Lined Street by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Persimmon Lined Street by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Orginal Japanese woodblock print. A charming village scene depicting a woman carrying wood on her head through the village streets. Signed in black ink bottom right. Bears the artist's stamp. Unlimited edition. Dating to circa 1960's.

Size: 11 1/2" h x 17" w
Condition: Very good overall. Strong color and impression. Slight handling creases throughout margins. Tape remnants slightly show through along the very edges of the print. Tape remnants to verso.

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Storage House by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Storage House by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Orginal Japanese woodblock print. An engaging village scene depicting a man carrying goods to a storage house. Signed in white ink by the artist bottom left. Bears the artist's stamp. Unlimited edition. Dating to circa 1960's.

Size: 10 1/5" h x 15 1/5" w (image) plus margins.
Condition: Very good overall. Strong colors and impression. Still housed within it's original presentation folder.

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Village of Miho by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Village of Miho by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Orginal Japanese woodblock print. A beautiful landscape design depicting a man carrying sacks of goods on a stick through a village street. Signed in ink by the artist bottom left. Bearing the artist's stamp. Unlimited edition. Dating to circa 1960's.

Size: 10 1/4" h x 15 1/4" w (image) plus margins.
Condition: Good overall. Excellent color and impression. Some toning to edges. Handling creases. Deeper creases upper center and left edge.

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Maiko No. 4 by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Maiko No. 4 by Kiyoshi Saito (1907-1997) Sosaku Hanga Japanese Woodblock Print. Unlimited Edition printed in circa 1960s.

Size: 15 3/4" h x 10 3/4" w.
Condition: Excellent. Tape stains on reverse.

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Laughing Boy in Aizu by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Laughing Boy in Aizu by Kiyoshi Saito. Original 1950's woodblock print. Kiyoshi Saito pencil signed the print in the lower right corner, along with his artist chop mark. Additional seal on verso. A beautiful image from Saito's Children of Aizu series. The little boy stands confidently and smiling.

Size: 16 9/16" h x 11 3/16" w
Condition: Excellent condition with strong colors and only mild age toning near edges of the paper. No foxing, soiling, tears or creases. There is a remnant of tape on the bottom verso side of the paper.

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Okuno-Hosomichi Ungan-Ji Kurohane by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Okuno-Hosomichi Ungan-Ji Kurohane by Kiyoshi Saito. This is loosely tanslated to mean Narrow Road to Deep North, Ungan Temple. The print is dated 1970. Limited edition numbered 61 of 150. Pencil signed and titled by the artist. Beautiful powerful image done with a minimalist approach.

Size: 23.75" h x 17.5" w
Condition: Good. Excellent impression. Slight foxing. Tape residue on verso.

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Autumn in Nara by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Autumn in Nara by Kiyoshi Saito. A wood engraving of from the series “Village Scenes”. Charming image with abundantly thatched farmhouse and persimmon tree; in the foreground villagers are busy in their daily tasks, clearly outlined against the gray foreground. Signed by artist in lower left, sealed in red with artist’s seal. Dates to circa 1960s.

Size: 17.5" h x 11.5" w
Condition: Very good.

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Kyoto Street Scene by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Kyoto Street Scene by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Depicts a summer street scene in a village in Kyoto. Signed and stamped by the artist in the bottom right. Dates to circa 1960s. From an unknown edition.

Size: 17.5" h X 11.5" w
Condition: Very good. Strong impression & color.

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Kiyoshi Saito Museum of Art Collection Book work no longer available

Kiyoshi Saito Museum of Art Collection Book. Printed in 1999. This book contains beautiful color pictures of 481 pieces all in the Kiyoshi Saito Museum. All of the prints in the book are reproduced in color. The text of this book is written in Japanese, the title and caption, list of works are also written in English.

Publication: Kiyoshi Saito Museum of Art, Yanaizu
Softcover, 215 pages
Size: approx 230mm X 301mm (8.9 inches X 11.8 inches)
Weight: approx 1190g
Language: Japanese
Condition:Excellent.

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Winter in Aizu by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Winter in Aizu by Kiyoshi Saito. Kiyoshi Saito did a series of well known prints depicting his home city of Aizu during different seasons. This print is part of his winter series. The print is signed by the artist. Dates to circa 1960.

This print came from a large collection of 160 pieces initially purchased from the Associated American Artist in Houston, TX by the original owner of the print.

Size: 11 1/2" h X 17 1/2" w
Condition: Excellent.

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Girl Carrying Baby by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Girl Carrying Baby by Kiyoshi Saito. From Saito's Children of Aizu series. The image depicts a girl in traditional Japanese dress carrying a baby. The print is pencil signed by the artist. Artist's red chop mark in bottom right. Print dates to the 1950s.

Condition: Average. Excellent impression. Margins are trimmed.

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Maiko Kyoto A by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Maiko Kyoto A by Kiyoshi Saito. Signed in ink by the artist. Limited edition numbered 50 of 100. Dated 1959. Titled in pencil. Self-carved self-printed tag on verso.

Size:  20 1/2" h x 14 1/2" w
Condition: Average to below average. Heavy foxing throughout margins. Some foxing on image area but not easily noticeable. Full margins. Strong image quality.

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Boy Carrying Baby by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Boy Carrying Baby by Kiyoshi Saito. A Japanese woodblock print from the "Children in Aizu" series. The print is pencil signed by the artist. It's dated to circa 1950s.

Condition: Good. Image area is in excellent condition. Tape remails on front and verso.
Size: 12" w x 18" h

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Buddha (B) by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Buddha (B) by Kiyoshi Saito. Rare Japanese woodblock print which is part of the Buddha series and is marked (B) indicating it to be from a second smaller edition of 80. It still has the self printed label attached. Limited edition numbered 12 out of 80 dated 1959. Signed and titled in pencil by the artist.

Size: 17 ¾’’ w x 23 ¾’’ h
Condition: Excellent.

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Child in Snow by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Child in Snow by Kiyoshi Saito. Joyful image of a Child in Snow, possibly from the Village of Aizu. Pencil signed in the bottom left. 

Condition: Excellent
Size: 16.25" x 11"

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Small Boy by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Small Boy by Kiyoshi Saito. Charming original Kiyoshi Saito signed print. Pencil signed in the margin beneath the image. Lightly adhered at the top center to back paper.

SIze: 9 1/2" x 12 1/4".
Condition: Good. Minor spots in the margin of the sheet, image in excellent condition, slight wrinkling to back paper.

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Bunraku by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Bunraku by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Original Japanese woodblock print. Circa 1960s. Signed in black ink by the artist. Bearing the artist's chop mark. Unlimited edition.

Size: 13 1/2" h x 9" w
Condition: Good color and impression. Damage to top margin due to previous matting.

 

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Awaji Doll by Kiyoshi Saito work no longer available

Awaji Doll by Kiyoshi Saito (Japan, 1907-1997). Original Japanese woodblock print. Circa 1960s. Signed in black ink by the artist. Bearing the artist's chop mark. Unlimited edition.

Size: 13 1/2" h x 9" w
Condition: Good color and impression. Damage to top margin due to previous matting.

Biography

print biography

Kiyoshi Saitō (斉藤清, Japan, 1907-1997) is a Japanese modernist printmaker known for producing prints with a distinct, graphic flatness.

Kiyoshi Saitō was born in Aizubange, Japan on April 27, 1907. At just five years old, he apprenticed as a sign-painter in Hokkaido, Otaru and studied drawing with artist Gyokusen Narita. By the time he was twenty, Saitō established his own successful sign-painting business. In 1932, Saitō moved to Tokyo to study Western-style painting at the Hongo Painting Institute. Saitō’s initial artwork was characterized by a focus on realism and three-dimensionality. However, in his early adulthood, the emerging artist was exposed to the works of European modernist painters like Munch, Mondrian, Picasso, Matisse, Kandinsky, and Gaugin. As a result, Saitō incorporated elements of modernism, cubism, abstract expressionism, and impressionism in his work.       

Saitō’s work portrays images of traditional Japanese landscapes and rural architecture. He is also known for his depictions of women adorning elaborate traditional Japanese kimono fashions, maiko dancers, images of animals, haniwa burial figures, shrines in Kamakura, and imagery inspired by travels in the U.S., Mexico, and Europe. Saitō was a sōsaku hanga (creative print) artist, meaning his work was self-drawn, self-carved and self-printed - an artistic process practiced by many modern Japanese artists as a collective departure from traditional publishing houses, which utilized a division of creative and labor art practices. Early in his career, Saitō used katsura wood ordered from Hokkaido - one of Japan’s islands and echizen hosho (mulberry paper) that he special-ordered from a paper dealer in the Fukui Prefecture. Later this type of wood became scarce, so during the last 20 years he worked with shina nuki (a type of plywood).

In 1936, Saitō began experimenting with woodblock prints and exhibiting works with Nihon Hanga Kyōkai (Japanese Creative Print Association). Saitō mainly worked with oil paint until his invitation from fellow woodblock print artist, Tadashige Ono (1909-1990), to join the Zokei Hanga Kyōkai (Plastic Print Association) in 1938. This exposure influenced Saitō to make woodblock his primary medium. In the same year, Saitō met other renowned artists such as Umetaro Azechi (1902-1999) and Gen Yamaguchi (1896-1976) through artist Kōshirō Onchi’s (1891-1950) Ichimokukai (First Thursday Society). They gathered once a month to discuss their prints. Also through his acquaintance with Onchi, Saitō was exposed to galleries where American purchasers began to take an interest in his work. In 1938, Saitō issued his first prints in his now famous Winter in Aizu series, scenes of nature and architecture set in his hometown in Aizu, Fukishima. His series of Persimmon in Aizu, Harvest in Aizu, Houses in Aizu and others are also well-known. Saitō’s prints developed over the course of his artistic career. His began to show prints with bold, simple, flat and solid areas of color and texture. Rather than depicting something for how it looks in real life, Saitō was interested in the reduced shapes, muted and unexpected colors, and the core essence of his subjects and settings. In the first stages of print production, Saitō created a pencil sketch of the area he wished to depict. He then drew a finalized panoramic view that he divided into several prints to create a series.

In 1948, Saitō exhibited at the Salon Printemps, an event sponsored by Americans for Japanese Artists. In 1950 at the Sao Paulo Biennale, his work Steady Gaze (Flower) won the Japanese Ancestry in Sao Paulo Prize. It was the first international prize for a Japanese artist after the Second World War. In 1956, Saitō was sponsored by the State Department and the Asia Foundation to travel and exhibit around the United States and Europe. Saitō continued to gain honors, win prizes, and exhibit in prestigious settings like the 1957 exhibition in Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art. Saitō is also known for creating a woodblock print of Prime Minister, Eisaku Sato for the cover of Time magazine in 1967. Saitō is decorated with Japan’s highest honors for his distinguished contribution to Japanese arts: The Order of Sacred Treasure (1981) and The Order of Culture in 1995. The recognition and increased demand for his work brought Saitō immense wealth. In 1985, a large show of Saitō’s oeuvre was held at a department store in Tokyo and sold more than 800 copies in less than a week. The mad rush for Saitō’s work continues today.

Kiyoshi Saitō passed away at the age of 90 on November 14, 1997, shortly after opening the Kiyoshi Saitō Museum of Art in Yanaizu. Hiyoshi Saitō’s highly regarded works are included in numerous major collections like the Hendricks Art Collection and museums like the Cincinnati Art Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Achenbach Foundation for the Graphic Arts in San Francisco, New York Public Library, Art Institute of Chicago, Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art, and the Kanagawa Prefectural Museum, among others.

Insights

Themes: Stone Gardens in Japanese Art

by: Chris Koller

The sight of a stone garden automatically brings to mind memories of my time in Japan. These stone gardens are beautiful temples to simplicity, peace, balance and meditation. A central part to the Japanese meditative experience, you will find stone gardens as a theme in Japanese art work of all eras, but particularly among those artists who participated in the Sosaku Hanga movement. In this post I explore some of my favorite works around this theme and highlight the artists who created them.