Kiyoshi Saitō (斎藤 清)

Kiyoshi Saitō (斎藤 清) (1907- 1997) was a sōsaku-hanga artist in 20th-century Japan. Born in a small village named Bange in the Kawanuma District of Fukushima prefecture in Honshu, Saitō was apprenticed to a sign painter at the age of 13. He dreamed of becoming a fine artist; his passion was painting.
While living in Tokyo, despite the security of working in his trade, Saitō chose to study art. He found support from Shiko Munakata and the influential sōsaku-hanga artist Koshiro Onchi. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, his prints' modern, minimal shapes and colors were popular internationally, particularly among American collectors. Within Japan, however, the West's fascination was treated with some disdain. In 1951, that attitude dramatically reversed after the first Sao Paulo Art Biennial. A panel of judges gave the top prizes to two hanga printmakers: Tetsuro Komai and Kiyoshi Saitō. Support from the Japanese art world became clear and lasting, and this secured Saitō's career for the rest of his long life. He lived in comfort, purchased a home for his family, and was displayed in important exhibitions and purchased for renowned collections. His legacy lives on in his beautiful work, still highly sought after to this day.