This rustic, earth tone ceramic tea bowl has a rough, natural feeling texture. Impressed into the outer sides of the tea bowl are the imprints of pine needles.
Sen no Rikyû (1522–1591), tea master to Japan’s most powerful warlords in the late sixteenth century, championed the use of humble materials in the tea ceremony. Instead of expensive imported Chinese celadon or bronze flower vases, for example, he carved his own from bamboo in his own garden. Rikyû encouraged the Kyoto potter Chôjirô (1515–1592) to develop a new type of tea bowl, known as raku ware, formed by hand and fired in a simple, pit-like chamber. Chôjirô’s distinctive, thick-walled tea bowls set the standard for works by later generations of the Raku family, such as this tea bowl.
It is a round, openwork tsuba, in the design of three interconnected bamboo leaves. It has the signature: Kishû jû, Sadanobu.
Tsuba (sword guard) is inserted between a sword handle and blade to protect hands from sharp blades. The center hole is where the sword is placed. The smaller hole is to insert an ornamental stick called kozuka.
A native of Sakamoto in Fukushima Prefecture, the artist here depicts his far northern hometown with the snow-covered imagery to present a view of traditional Japan in a innovative and modern way.
The artist was a member of the Creative Print (sôsaku hanga) movement, which played a strategic role in the transformation of American-Japanese relations during the Cold War. In the decades before and after the Second World War Americans were receiving conflicting messages about Japan, which was successively presented as an exotic land of geisha, an increasingly evil adversary of America and its culture, and finally as a much-needed ally against communism in Asia. Post-war, the people of the United States and Japan were encouraged by their governments to embrace one another as friends (although with America occupying Japan until the 1950s, this friendship was less than equal) and art was considered an attractive vehicle for promoting this political goal. Already popular among occupying forces, the work of Creative Print artists appealed to the larger American audience because it both resonated with nostalgic pre-war conceptions of Japan and was infused with a modern sensibility.
This modern presentation of traditional Japan is one that the versatile Saitô captured masterfully in his work. Famous places in Japan were one of the most popular subjects of Edo (1615–1868) and Meiji (1868–1912) period woodblock prints, and Creative Print artists strove to represent them in innovative ways. This imagery of Japan is one that drew on the past yet was visually fresh.
This work is a depiction of haniwa, clay figures used as tomb burial objects during the Kôfun Period (250–338 CE) that have come to be emblematic of Japanese art and cultural traditions.
Though initially simple clay cylinders, in the fourth century haniwa began to be shaped as warriors, female shrine attendants, everyday objects, and animals. In Saitô’s presentation these traditional figures are pared down to their essential shapes, their basic geometric components emphasized with blocks of patterns and colors reminiscent of Cubism. Dusted with malachite, Saitô’s prints of haniwa glitter in the light, evoking the dynamism of these occasionally playful clay sculptures.
Saitô Kiyoshi (1907–1997) was a member of the Creative Print (sôsaku hanga) movement, a group of artists dedicated to bringing individualism, experimentation, and autonomy to Japan’s centuries old ukiyo-e tradition. One of the most well-known forms of Japanese art, ukiyo-e is a type of woodblock print that first appeared in the mid- to late Edo period (1615–1868). Cheap to produce, widely available, and very popular in the late eighteenth century, by the early twentieth century when Saitô was working demand for woodblock prints in Japan was waning. Historically the production of ukiyo-e was dominated by giant publisher-controlled studios where the labor was divided and no single artist was responsible for creating an entire work. The Creative Print movement aimed to topple these traditions by bringing control of the woodblock print process into the hands of the individual artist.
In the past even famous ukiyo-e artists like Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) were responsible only for the initial steps of the process. The artist would draw a design that would be handed off to the carver, who cut around the lines, creating a separate block for each color of the print. Finally, the printer placed paper on top of an inked block and rubbed it with a special pad made of bamboo fibers. Creative Print artists performed each of these steps themselves, seeing a print through from start to finish. This essential difference emphasized the artist as a talented individual and distanced the modern woodblock print from what was seen by many Japanese as its plebian origins. Saitô was a distinguished printmaker, whose success in the international art world helped bring the Creative Print movement to prominence and raised the status of the modern print in Japan.
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.
A child ventures out into the deep snow, holding up his broad leggings which are insulated with straw. Behind him, the house wall is plastered with two messages: "Careful with fire!" and "Felecitations for the Spring Equinox".
This image evokes winter in the deep "snow country" on the northwest coast of Japan, facing the Japan sea.
Despite the title given by the artist, this print is a highly abstracted representation of a famous 7th century sculpture of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (J. Kannon), in the collection of Hôryûji Temple, Nara.
This is 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). Several other prints from this series are in UMMA's collections.
An album of 28 pages. Cover is brown with a faded image at the center, possibly of leaves on an off-white background. The inside of the album primarily contains hand-written text, though some of the text has faded images in the background, and some of the pages are completely images. The first page depicts a seated man in formal attire. and across from him is a seperate painting of a landscape with green mountains. Other images contained within are of various topics with various colors and styles.
This twenty-seven leaf album contains letters, drafts of poems, and some sketches by Sakai Hôitsu. Many of the letters are addressed to his assistants, giving them detailed painting instructions, sometimes with sketches, and reminding them of their deadlines.
This small, flat piece made of light brown brass (called "sentoku" in Japanese) has a round diamond shape. It has a triangular shaped hole in the center and another round hole on one side. Artist’s name is signed between the two holes. The surface is slightly concaved from the rim. The front has relief design of a shrimp, blowfish, and bamboo branch. On the back, there are designs of a spiral shell, a barnacle, and water drops. The sea motifs are inlayed with gold, silver, copper, and shakudô (copper-gold alloy).
Tsuba (sword guard) is inserted between a sword handle and blade to protect hands from sharp blades. The center hole is where the sword is placed. The smaller hole is to insert an ornamental stick called kozuka. This particlar tsuba has a sea-related theme of shrimp and blowfish.
This print of a calendar for the month of January, 1964, is dominated by red. Blues and purples round out the composition. Sundays are indicated with red numbers and purple boxes, while the rest of the calendar days sit in red boxes with the numbered date showing as paper through negative space. The year 1963 is printed at top center in a rounded and pointed red rectangular shape. Birds, flowers, and kanji are used to decorate the upper register.
Serizawa, designated as a Living National Treasure in 1956, is known for his textile design. This calendar, on handmade mulberry paper, uses katazome technique, in which a paste resist is applied through a stencil. Colors are tapplied through dyeing or painting.