Kiyoshi Saito (1907-1997, Japanese)

Kiyoshi Saito, Judging CatKiyoshi Saito (1907-1997, Japanese) was born in Fukushima prefecture. Early on Saito became interested in art and after moving to Tokyo in 1932, began studying Western art at the Hongo Painting Institute; however, Saito remained mainly self-taught. Saito, at first, worked in oil painting, but began experimenting with woodblock prints around 1938. His early works are highly realistic three dimensional representations of local Japanese villages and people. During WWII, his career was put on hold. And so, it was only in 1948 that he first exhibited his works sponsored by Americans for Japanese Artists. Afterwards, the US State Department sponsored his travel and exhibitions around the US and Europe.

Saito completed all the work for his woodblock prints, drawing, carving and printing the blocks himself. Often his prints were made from a single piece of wood with the natural grain patterns evident. His works evolved into two-dimensional elongated figures that are flattened. This style is apparent in his depiction of his cats. Long and sleek, his cats are represented in an almost geometric style. Saito is credited with being one of the early founders of the Sosaku-hanga (creative print) movement.

Saito’s works were popular collectors’ items in the 1950’s and 60’s. In 1967, Saito made a woodblock print of Prime Minister Eisaku Sato for Time Magazine. His works are still highly sought after at auctions and are also displayed in major museums. The Kiyoshi Saito Museum was established in Aizu and holds many of his works.


Head of a Cat. Kiyoshi Saito 1953

Head of a Cat. 1953



Cat 1, Kiyoshi Saito



Cat and Kittens, Kiyoshi Saito

Cat and Kittens



Cats, 1974 Kiyoshi Saito

Cats, 1974



Girl with Cat, Kiyoshi Saito

Girl with Cat



Kiyoshi Saito - Cat and Kittens, (1955)

Cat and Kittens, 1955



Kiyoshi Saito (Japanese, 1907-1997) Seated Cat, 1951

Seated Cat, 1951




Kiyoshi Saito (Japanese, 1907-1997)




Kiyoshi Saito Two Cats 1952

Two Cats, 1952



Kiyoshi Saito, Beauty-Contest




Kiyoshi Saito, Blac k Cat

Black Cat



Kiyoshi Saito, Black Cat with Beige Background

Black Cat with Beige Background


Kiyoshi Saito, Cats



Kiyoshi Saito, Four Cats

Four Cats



Kiyoshi Saito, Line Up of Cats

Line Up of Cats



Kiyoshi Saito, Mother and Kittens

Mother and Kittens



Kiyoshi Saito, Mother Love

Mother Love



Mother Love Detail, Kiyoshi Saito

Mother Love Detail



Kiyoshi Saito, Multi Colored Cats

Multi Colored Cats



Kiyoshi Saito, Stripes the Cat

Stripes the Cat



Kiyoshi Saito, Three Cats

Three Cats



Kiyoshi Saito, Two Black and White Cats

Two Black and White Cats



Kiyoshi Saito, Two Colorful Cats

Two Colorful Cats



Neko Rain, 1985, Kiyoshi Saito

Neko Rain, 1985



Two Cats and a Butterfly, Kiyoshi Saito

Two Cats and a Butterfly



Want to know more about the cat in art, history and literature? Then Revered and Reviled is the book for you. Now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. 


Revered and Reviled: A Complete History of the Domestic Cat, cat history, cats


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