Isamu Noguchi, Japanese/American (1904-1988)

American sculptor, Isamu Noguchi, grew up in Japan (1906-1917) nd was first schooled in New York at the Leonardo de Vinci Art School in New York under Onorio Ruotolo in 1924. The most profound effect on his work came from studying with Constantin Brancusi while a Guggenheim Fellow in Paris in 1927. The immediate influence of Brancusi can be seen as early as one year following the fellowship in the piece Foot Tree. In 1938, Noguchi won the national competition to decorate the Associated Press Building in New York’s Rockefeller center.

His submitted piece was a large stainless steel relief sculpture. During World War II, Noguchi was in a voluntary internment Nisei camp in California. He took this time as an opportunity to experiment with forms and materials, carving the piece, Kouros, out of marble. Subsequent to the war, Noguchi went to the New York City Ballet where he designed stage sets and costumes.

Noguchi’s work was an amalgamation of both an Asian precision of craft and the refined understanding of Western Art. Post 1950, his most ambitious projects were reminiscent of Japanese gardens, attempting to achieve a balance between the sculpture, the ‘garden space’ and the architecture surrounding the work. This process is seen in pieces like, Water Garden, at the Chase Manhattan Bank Plaza, New York, Garden of Peace, the UNESCO Building, Paris, and Billy Rose Art Garden, Jerusalem.


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