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Keisuke Serizawa

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Keisuke Serizawa
Japanese, (1895–1983)
A national art treasure of Japan, master of stencil dyeing, leader of the Japanese Mingei (Folk art) movement.

Keisuke Serizawa was a Renaissance Man. His combining two textile dyeing techniques, the bingata of Okinawa and the Japanese ise katagami (stencil dyeing) resulted in his own kataezome stencil dyeing. He used his kataezome process for dyeing kimono fabrics, for screens, wall hangings, fans, scrolls,calendars, noren (shop curtains), quilt covers, prints. He illustrated his own books, painted on paper, wood, ceramic, and glass and even helped design the Kurashiki Ohara Art Museum.

In 1955 the Japanese government instituted a system of designating and honoring living artists who distinguished themselves in the traditional folk arts and crafts by giving them the title “Living National Art Treasure” (Ningen Kokuho). A small stipend was given to each of the Living National Art Treasures to train a few apprentices every year thus after the master was gone, the traditional art form would continue. This idea showed a great deal of foresight. In 1956 at the age of sixty one, Keisuke Serizawa was designated a Living National Art Treasure by the Japanese government, the Master of Stencil Dyeing. Serizawa passed away at the age of 89 in 1984 but his traditional craft of stencil dyeing is carried on by his apprentices such as Masahiko Takada and Nobuyuki Takai.

Serizawa has shown his work at the Grand Palais in Paris in 1976, the Boston Museum of Fine Art, The Mingei International Museum of Folk Art in San Diego. There are four museums devoted to just his work: The Serizawa Art Museum in his birthplace Shizuoka, The Keisuke Serizawa Art and Craft Museum in Sendai, the Tohoku Fukushi University Serizawa Museum, and the Ohara Art Museum in Kurashiki.


Designer, painter, illustrator, dyer and book and print maker, Keisuke Serizawa was named a Living National Treasure by the Emperor of Japan for his distinctive kataezome style, combining Japanese dyeing techniques with those of Okinawan bingata. More than 100 examples of his work including kimono, noren, (door hangings), book designs, folding and hanging screens and obi (kimoni sashes) appeared in the exhibition. The exhibition included selections from Mingei International’s collection of Serizawa’s work.


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