A riveting mid century wood block printed architectural scene by Saito Kiyoshi of powerful vertical columns and dark shadows, Pencil signed and titled; Gate Nagasaki and numbered 14/50 with the epitaph DESIGN MADE IN 1955 PRINTED IN 1956. The same print is held in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. It also comes with the original artist seal on a separate piece of paper attached to the back and signed in ink SELF CARVED SELF PRINTED KIYOSHI SAITO. In this rare early image ink is applied in an unusual technique resembling watercolor.It is quite large at 59 x 73 cm (23 x 33 inches). It came to us framed and behind glass, on the back of the frame was written 4th month of Showa 33 (1958) Artist Saito Kiyoshi (see photographs). There is some toning typical of age and two tape marks where it had been attached to the matting. It will be sent with the original backing board but without the frame. For another image of this print in the collection of the Ringling Museum see the book Saito Kiyoshi Graphic Awakening (2021) page 88.
Saito Kiyoshi 1907-1997 was born in Fukushima prefecture into a family of modest means. However, the family fell on hard times, and moved to Hokkaido when he was five where his father worked as a coal miner. At the age of 13 his mother died and he was sent to live at a Buddhist temple, however he returned to Hokkaido, becoming a sign painter and establishing his own business before his 20th birthday. Although successful, in 1932 he moved to Tokyo to begin studying art, learning oil painting at the Hongo Institute. This was at the time of the Sosaku Hanga movement, and he began creating his own woodblocks in his spare time, yet this quickly became his main forte, and by the late 30s ceded the brush in favor of the chisel and barren. Much lauded over his lifetime, he created a very easily distinguishable style favoring two-dimensional imagery and a limited palette of colors creating imagery with a distinct architectural quality. For an excellent article on his life see the Lavenberg Collection. Work by him is held in the aforementioned Art Institute of Chicago, British Museum, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Gallery of New South Wales, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cleveland Museum of Art, Indianapolis Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Portland Art Museum, The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, Fukushima Prefectural Museum of Art and Kanagawa Prefectural Museum among many others and you may find much information about him, his life and his work online at the Saito Kiyoshi Museum of Art Yanaizu.