Isamu Noguchi – Sculptural Design

February 5–May 14, 2006

In a career that spanned six decades, Japanese American artist Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) produced a groundbreaking body of work that encompassed multiple disciplines to break down the barriers between sculptural art and functional design. Isamu Noguchi – Sculptural Design celebrates this legacy by integrating over 75 of Noguchi’s works into a series of dramatic installations conceptualized by renowned theater designer and artist Robert Wilson. The exhibition includes Noguchi’s portrait busts, unique stone sculptures, and set designs for the Martha Graham Dance Company as well as his iconic furniture designs and Akari lamps, all arranged in thematic settings with bold lighting, visually striking tableaux, and evocative sounds.

This is the second exhibition at the Japanese American National Museum exploring the complex career of Isamu Noguchi. In 2004, Isamu Noguchi and Modern Japanese Ceramics, organized by the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, examined Noguchi’s little-known work in clay alongside ceramic art from nine of Japan’s most influential figures, including Kitaoji Rosanjin, Kawai Kanjiro, and Yagi Kazuo.

Isamu Noguchi - Sculptural Design

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The Los Angeles presentation of Isamu Noguchi – Sculptural Design is made possible, in part, by the generous support of Ray Inouye, Chris Inouye, Steve Inouye, and Deena (Inouye) Lew; The James Irvine Foundation; Hisako Nerio Imamura & Akira Imamura; Sumi Nerio Leonard & Robert J. Leonard; Frank & Keiko Mizote; and The Henri & Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation. Additional support was provided by Steve & Linda Arai; Denise & R. Thomas Decker; Stephen L. Kagawa; John & Shirley Nakaki; David A. & Tina Yamano Nishida; Gyo & Courtney Obata; Michael Oshima & Chiaki Tanaka, Ph.D.; Karen Otamura & Michael Schneickert; Prudential Financial, Inc.; George Takei & Brad Altman; Guy & Audrey Watanabe; Sachiko Watanabe; Gordon Yamate & Deborah Shiba, D.D.S.; Herbert & Barbara Yuki; and Thomas & Carol Yuki. Public programs are supported, in part, by The Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles. Media sponsors are KSCI-TV; LA Weekly; and The Rafu Shimpo.

Isamu Noguchi – Sculptural Design was organized by the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany, in cooperation with the Isamu Noguchi Foundation Inc., New York. The exhibition design and visual concept by Robert Wilson were developed at the Watermill Center on Long Island, New York. The Japanese American National Museum is the only California venue after showings in London, Weil am Rhein, Madrid, Paris, Cologne, Rotterdam, Berlin, New York and Seattle.

Photographs: Lyre - Set element from Orpheus, 1948. Installation view at the London Design Museum. Thomas Dix/Vitra Design Museum; Installation view at the Vitra Design Museum. Bench, 1966. Thomas Dix/Vitra Design Museum.

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