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Thursday, March 22, 2007

isamu noguchi

November 17, 1904 - December 30, 1988

Isamu Noguchi was a sculptor, designer, architect, and craftsman. Throughout his life he struggled to see, alter, and recreate his natural surroundings. His gardens and fountains were transformations meant to bring out the beauty their locations had always possessed. His large abstract stone sculptures were both majestic and personal. He believed that through sculpture and architecture, one could better understand the struggle with nature. It is that search for understanding which brings together his many and varied works. Isamu Noguchi was born Isamu Gilmour in Los Angeles in 1904 to Leonie Gilmour, an Irish-American teacher and editor, and Yone Noguchi, a Japanese poet. It is the cultural divide between his parents, between East and West, between two distinct histories of art and thought, that would engage him his entire life. In 1906, Noguchi's mother took him to Japan, where he attended Japanese and Jesuit schools. While in Japan, Noguchi gained an appreciation for its landscape, architecture and craftsmanship. Later his mother sent him to Indiana to attend a progressive boarding school she had read about in a magazine. After high school Noguchi enrolled in Columbia University to study medicine, while at the same time taking sculpture classes on the Lower East Side. It wasn't long before he realized that art, not medicine, was his true calling. He left school and found a studio where he could sculpt full-time. While in Manhattan he became acquainted with the work of the Surrealists and with contemporary abstract sculpture. These interests led him to Paris on a Guggenheim Fellowship, where he met and worked with the great modernist sculptor, Constantin Brancusi. Brancusi's engagement with the abstract and his belief in understanding the pre-disposed forms of his materials made a strong impression on Noguchi. While in Paris he also met the sculptors Alexander Calder and Alberto Giacometti. Source: PBS American Masters

He was also an important landscape architect known for public works as well as his stagee sets for Martha Graham productions.

A number of his mass-produced furniture pieces and lamps are still being manufactured and are considered icons of twentieth century interior design.

[ IN-50 COFFEE TABLE, 1944 ]


the noguchi museum

isamu noguchi pbs american masters

artcylopaedia noguchi online