One of a series of prints by the artist portraying famous Buddhist sculptures of Nara (the capital of Japan in the 8th century and a major monastic center); this one evokes a sculpture of Avalokitesvara (Japanese, Kannon) at Hôryûji Temple on Nara's outskirts. Several other prints from this series are in UMMA's collections.
This work portrays a dynamic, umbrella-studded view of the University of Michigan Diag, based on sketches Saitô made during his trip to Ann Arbor in the fifties.
In the 1950s and 1960s the Creative Print (sôsaku hanga) movement became the new face of Japanese art in the international art scene. Not initially prized in Japan, much work by Creative Print Movement artists was indeed intended for international audiences. As the movement came to represent the nation in the modern art world, artists like Saitô traveled to sell their work and galleries were established overseas from which to distribute and display it. This generated international exposure that garnered for these artists a more cosmopolitan image that was critical to their success both domestically and abroad.
In this two-fold screen, the artist reveals the geometric beauty of the famous fifteenth-century stone garden at the Ryôanji temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Kyoto.
Saitô Kiyoshi was a self-proclaimed fan of the Dutch De Stijl painter Piet Mondrian (1872–1944), known for paintings of pure geometry in primary colors and black. Saitô found his vocabulary of abstract forms particularly well-suited to conveying the austere, simple lines of centuries-old Japanese temples and architecture. By recasting Japanese art and culture in a modern idiom, Saitô’s work played an important role in legitimizing it in the eyes of the international art world.