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Clay Image (Q) (highly abstracted haniwa female figure and pot)

Accession Number
1958/2.25

Title
Clay Image (Q) (highly abstracted haniwa female figure and pot)

Artist(s)
Saitō Kiyoshi

Artist Nationality
Japanese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
1954

Medium & Support
color woodblock print on paper

Dimensions
33 1/16 in x 21 5/8 in (84 cm x 55 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of the artist

Label copy
Creative Print (sôsaku hanga) artists embraced traditional subjects in their modern artwork—a choice that was key to their commercial success. Here Saitô portrays 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.
(Gallery Rotation Fall 2011)
Gallery Rotation Fall 2011
Saitô Kiyoshi
Japan, 1907–1997
Clay Image (Q)
1954
Showa period (1926–89)
Color woodblock print on paper
Gift of the artist, 1958/2.25
Creative Print (sôsaku hanga) artists embraced traditional subjects in their modern artwork—a choice that was key to their commercial success. Here Saitô portrays 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.

Subject matter
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.

Physical Description
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.

Primary Object Classification
Print

Primary Object Type
color print

Additional Object Classification(s)
Print

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
abstraction
pots (containers)

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