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Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure
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Walking Man I

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) is widely acclaimed as a defining artist of modernism and of the 20th century. Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure explores the artist’s extraordinary and singular portrayals of the human figure.The exhibition investigates the creative process that led to Giacometti’s figures through sculpture, painting, and drawing. The works on view include Giacometti’s major achievements during the post-WWII years and represents the first major retrospective of the artist’s work in the Heartland.

The exhibition features around 100 objects by Giacometti, drawn from the extensive holdings of the Fondation Giacometti in Paris and complemented by the Nelson-Atkins’ own iconic Chariot (1950)—which will receive a new look at its relationship to Giacometti’s love of Ancient art. His lifelong study of art history eloquently speaks to his search for the absolute essence of the human form.

For Giacometti, the human figure was the essential conveyer of meaning. His figures are instantly recognizable, and therefore universal. Pared down to their essence with simple movements such as standing or walking, viewers can immediately recognize themselves and connect deeply with the sculptures. These figures resulted from a long process initiated in the 1920s and ‘30s and adapted after the Second World War.Chariot by Giacometti

Through broad thematic sections, the exhibition traces Giacometti’s development from young artist on the Swiss-Italian border through ambitious young artist in Paris responding to the art around him to his enduring post-war achievements. Along the way, viewers encounter his legendary studio space and discover the muses and models who meant most to him throughout his career. In addition, little-seen examples of paintings, drawings, and works on paper reveal the artist’s wide-ranging process, as he worked out the ideas that his acclaimed sculptures embody.

Image of Lotar 1. A sculpture by Giacometti.The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue available for purchase through the Museum Store.


Kansas City Urban Sketchers (KCUS)

  • Saturday, May 6 | 10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
  • FREE; No ticket required
  • Throughout the museum

This community partnership and program with Kansas City Urban Sketchers was inspired by the exhibition Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure. Members of KCUS will sketch in the exhibition and throughout the museum, drawing what they see from direct observation. Museum guests are invited to interact with sketchers and watch them draw.

3D Community Tour 

  • Saturday, May 20 | 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
  • $25 public | $20 members
  • Offsite; limited tickets available

Like the body of work created by artist Alberto Giacometti, Kansas City is full of fine three-dimensional sculptures and statues. This is your chance to learn about them firsthand. From 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., guests will tour four locations around town, including local galleries and creative venues, and discover connections in the arts and our community. After the tour, enjoy a glassblowing demo and closing reception at Belger Glass Annex from 3–4 p.m.

Destinations include:

  • Belger Crane Yard Studios
  • The Bunker Center for the Arts
  • Negro Leagues Baseball Museum
  • Bird Live! and A Jazz Pantheon
  • Belger Glass Annex

Tour Guides will provide directions upon arrival. The venues are within a five-mile radius. This program is presented with the exhibition,  Alberto Giacometti: Toward the Ultimate Figure.


Co-organized by the Foundation Giacometti and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. In Kansas City, generous support provided by Hall Family Foundation; Paul DeBruce and Linda Woodsmall-DeBruce; Neil Karbank and Gretchen Calhoun; Muriel McBrien Kauffman Family Foundation; Dr. Douglas L. and Dana H. Nelson; Donald J. Hall Jr.; Evelyn Craft Belger and Richard Belger; Marion and Henry Bloch Family Foundation; Nancy and Rick Green; R Lyman and Sally J. Ott; Richard J. Stern Foundation for the Arts—Commerce Bank, Trustee; JE Dunn Construction; and the Campbell/Calvin Fund for Exhibition Support.

Jack Nisberg. Alberto Giacometti in his Studio, about May 1965. Silver print, 7 13/16 x 11 7/8 inches (19.9 x 30.1 cm). Archives, Fondation Giacometti © Jack Nisberg/Roger -Viollet.
Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, 1901–1966). Walking Man I, 1960. Bronze, 71 1/16 × 10 5/8 × 38 3/16 in.(180.5 x 27 x 97 cm). Fondation Giacometti. © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022.
Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, 1901-1966). Head of Man (Lotar I), c. 1964–1965. Bronze, 10 1/16 x 11 1/8 x 5 3/16 in. (25.5 x 28.2 x 13.2 cm). Fondation Giacometti © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022.
Alberto Giacometti (Swiss, 1901–1966). The Chariot, 1950. Painted bronze, 56 1/4 × 24 1/4 × 27 inches (142.88 × 61.6 × 68.58 cm). Gift of the Hall Family Foundation, acquired from the Patsy and Raymond Nasher Collection. F99-33/7. © Succession Alberto Giacometti / ADAGP, Paris, 2022.