Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was among the most innovative American sculptors of the 20th century, creating works that were far ahead of his time. His design for Sculpture to Be Seen from Mars (1947) anticipates the space age by several decades. Yet Noguchi frequently found inspiration in ancient art and architecture, from Egyptian pyramids, to Buddhist temples and Zen gardens, to American Indian burial mounds.
Isamu Noguchi, Archaic/Modern brings together more than 80 works, nearly all on loan from The Noguchi Museum, made over six decades. Featured works include several monolithic basalt sculptures, fountains, and floating Akari ceiling lights, as well as works that use stone, water, and light to evoke nature and call to mind elemental structures in civilization across time. Noguchi saw himself as equal parts artist and engineer and the exhibition devotes special attention to his patented designs, such as Radio Nurse—the first baby monitor, and also includes his designs for stage sets, playgrounds, and utilitarian articles, many of which are still being produced today.
Noguchi was born in the United States to an American mother andJapanese father, and spent his childhood in Japan and teenage years in the American Midwest. He had a complex perspective on the events of World War II and drew on his unique global perspective to create artworks that confront both the positive and negative consequences of progress—from the devastating effect of the atomic bomb to the potential of atomic energy and promise of the space age, both of which are addressed in this thematically organized exhibition.
Whether you go or not, the exhibition catalog explores how the ancient world shaped Noguchi’s vision for the future.