The philosopher Isaku Yanaihara (1918-1989) looms large in the literature on Alberto Giacometti. During his sojourns in France between 1956 and 1961, Yanaihara sat repeatedly for this sculptor, one of the greatest in the twentieth century. Of the artist’s numerous portraits of his Japanese philosopher, however, only two bronzes were finished, of which only seven casts in total are currently known. It is one of these rarities that came to the National Museum of Art, Osaka (NMAO) in 2018, the first to enter a Japanese collection. Having acquired the oil Man [Homme] (1956) in 2013, NMAO offers an opportunity to view both Giacometti’s painting and sculpture, on which he staked his entire life in a struggle to render “what one sees as one sees it.”
This exhibition seeks to approach the world of Giacometti and Yanaihara not only through the Museum’s own works but also the artist’s other Yanaihara-related pieces borrowed from various institutions and private individuals in Japan. In addition to Yanaihara’s notebooks documenting his sessions with Giacometti, a series of photographs he took in Paris and elsewhere will be on show. Other instances of painted and sculpted human figures from our collection, mainly ones produced during Giacometti’s lifetime, augment the exhibition.