The Bold Modernist Print Designs of Saitō Kiyoshi Surveyed In New Exhibition At The Ringling

  • May 02, 2021 14:40

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Saitō Kiyoshi (Japanese, 1907 - 1997) 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.
Saitō Kiyoshi (Japanese, 1907 - 1997) Steady Gaze (Two Cats), 1952. Part of the exhibition "Saitō Kiyoshi: Graphic Awakening" at The Ringling.

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art now presents Saitō Kiyoshi: Graphic Awakening, a new exhibition on view through Aug. 15, 2021, in Sarasota, Florida.

Comprised of 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. Saitō Kiyoshi’s (Japanese 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.

Dr. Rhiannon Paget, Curator of Asian Art said, “Visitors to the exhibition will see many of the imaginative designs that made Saitō Kiyoshi one of Japan’s most beloved printmakers, especially in the United States. Saitō’s corpus encompasses urban and natural landscapes, female subjects, theater, architecture, and cats that reveal his curious mind, sensitive eye, and playful sense of humor.”

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.

Saitō Kiyoshi (Japanese, 1907 - 1997) Winter in Paris, 1966. Part of the exhibition "Saitō Kiyoshi: Graphic Awakening" at The Ringling.

More information, including purchasing tickets and The Ringling’s response to Covid-19 can be found at or by calling 941-359-5700.

Tags: asian art

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