Karhu @ 77, A Personal Tribute
Tolman, Tokyo, 2004, 124 pages, over 77 prints illustrated large format hard cover with dust jacket, approx. 10.5" x 14.5", text is in English and Japanese
Clifton Karhu recorded the Japan of everyone's dreams. With 77 prints in full color illustrating the works, the text in both English and Japanese tells how Karhu decided on themes, how he worked, where he lived, and what he thought about his work. Although he was American born (Duluth, Minnesota) and educated (Minneapolis School of Art, class of 1952), Clifton Karhu lived in the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto since 1955, mastering the language, the social mores and all of the cutting and printing techniques of the traditional Japanese woodcut prints.
It has been noted by some that Karhu became more Japanese than the native-born, wearing traditional attire as he walked the neighborhoods of his beloved city. He was the first foreign member of the Japan Print Association, and had been the President of the Kyoto chapter. Karhu used a rich blend of colors and a strong overprinting of black line that is quite distinct from earlier Japanese print styles. Most of his subjects were drawn from locations in and around Kyoto, and in particular he was fond of using architectural elements in his work. These provided linearity and stability to the art, some of which employ bright and vivid colors. Special effects and moods were also created with the use of light and shadow filtering across scenes.
Clifton Karhu works are represented in collections, including Cincinnati; Harvard University; St. Paul, Minnesota and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as well as in the collections of many international corporations. Since his passing his work has become quite difficult to find.