Issue #84  1/17/2005
Ishimoto to Donate 7,000 Photos to Museum in Kochi, Japan

The Japanese press has recently reported that noted photographer Yasuhiro Ishimoto, who lived as a child in Kochi Prefecture and now resides in Tokyo, has decided to donate about 7,000 photographs to the Kochi Museum of Art in Kochi, Japan. The total current value of the donated work was estimated at 1.4 billion yen. In addition, the photographer plans to donate future works and films.

The photographs include prints from Ishimoto's popular photo collection book "Chicago, Chicago" as well as unpublished works.

Although Ishimoto was actually born June 14, 1921 in San Francisco, his parents were from Tosa, Kochi Prefecture. He returned to Tosa when he was three years old and lived in the area until he graduated from Kochi Agricultural High School. After graduation, Ishimoto returned to the United States and studied design and photography at the famed Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology. He graduated from the Institute of Design in 1952. He then immigrated to Japan in 1961 and became a naturalized citizen of Japan in 1969. Ishimoto was selected as a Person of Cultural Merit by the government in 1996. He is listed in most 20th century photography reference works, including International Center of Photography Encyclopedia of Photography and the Macmillan Biographical Encyclopedia of Photographic Artists.

The Kochi Museum of Art held an exhibition of his works in 2001, and since then the relationship between Ishimoto and the museum has deepened. Now 83, Ishimoto has asked the museum to accept all his photographs so that they would be kept in the place where he grew up.

Reportedly the museum has already received about 2,800 pieces, of which about 40 representative works are currently on display until February 27.

Besides the Kochi Museum, major and substantial holdings of Ishimoto's works are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the New York Museum of Modern Art, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, although his photographs are in the collection of many other institutions.

His work has been a part of some of the most formative exhibitions of the mid to late 20th century, including Subjektive Fotografie 2; the Family of Man; New Japanese Photography; Terminal Landscape--Photographic Views of Pastoral Destruction; Photography at Princeton: Celebrating 25 Years of Collecting; Yasuhiro Ishimoto: A Tale of Two Cities; "Ghost in the Shell": Photography and the Human Soul, 1850-2000; The Beauty of Japan Photographed; and the recent Taken by Design: Photographs from the Institute of Design.