Biography Karhu, Clifton (1927 - 2007)
Clifton Karhu, who was of Finnish descent, was born in Duluth, Minnesota, USA, in 1927. Between 1946-48 he was stationed in Sasebo, an American Navy base in Japan. From 1950-1952 he studied and graduated at the Minneapolis School of Art. He returned to Japan as a missionary for the Lutheran church, selling Bibles door to door, but around 1958 he started his artistic career in Japan. First he made oil paintings and watercolours, while living in the Gifu area. In the early 1960s he concentrated on making mokuhan, woodblock prints. In 1963 he moved to Kyoto and in 1964 he became a member of the Nihon Hanga Kyokai.
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From the start his work was popular, and eventually he became one of the grand old men of Sosaku Hanga. He was a resident of Kyoto for more than 40 years. He died in Kanazawa on March 24th 2007, and was buried in Kyoto, in Gion, which he loved most of all, and where he was often seen sketching.
Clifton Karhu's work is instantly recognizable because of its strong forms, lines and colours. He did his own carving and printing, and continued doing so until the very end of his life.