ISAMU NOGUCHI

1904-1988
United States

« Everything is sculpture. Any material, any idea without hindrance born into space, I consider sculpture. »

• Isamu Noguchi •

Isamu Noguchi is an eclectic bridge between East and West. And vice versa. He is a hand-to-hand sculptor : all his work is marked by a poetic organic formality. In art and design.

He is born in Los Angeles from the Japanese poet Yonejirō Noguchi and the American writer Leonie Gilmour. He is deeply marked by his first thirteen years of life in Japan before coming to the United States. At the beginning, he is a medical student at the University of Colombia in New York, but he also attended sculpture evening classes. He finally studied his hearts and souls this last practice at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School. His mentor is none other than Onorio Ruotolo, known as the « Rodin of Little Italy ». Then Isamu Noguchi founded his own workshop, before obtaining a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1926, an exhibition of Constantin Brancusi took place in New York : Isamu Noguchi was completely fascinated by him. So he went to Paris to become his assistant between 1927 and 1929. He came from a primary academism, but with this new master he discovered reduced, organic, even abstract forms : Isamu Noguchi fully entered in modernity, a modernity with lyricism, poetry, emotion and mystery. He said : « my father, Yone Noguchi, is Japanese and his poetry has long been known as the translation of the East for the West. I would like to do the same for the sculpture. »
He is one of the most important sculptors of the twentieth century : on the other side of the Atlantic, his recognition in the artistic landscape started in 1938, thanks to his sculpture symbolizing freedom of the press, sponsored on purpose for the Associated Press Building in the Rockefeller Center. In France, his notoriety is not at the same level but actors are working hardly, like Museum of Decorative Arts of Bordeaux or WA Design Gallery : because this jack-of-all-trades is a pure genius.

He is a tireless creator, and he does not belong to any movement : he is a schoolmaster in all fields of creation. He studied traditional Chinese painting ; he created stage sets in 1935 for Merce Cunningham or George Balanchine ; he created gardens ; he worked with renowned architects like Louis Kahn.
Isamu Noguchi is undoubtedly one of the most important American-Japanese sculptors and designers of the twentieth century. His design creations are known all around the world : he creates many pieces for Herman Miller as « IN-50 » or « Rudder » tables, both characterized by a poetic and intense sculptural abstraction. His « Free From Sofa » is absolutely iconic and a collectible object of desire. He is the father of the most recognizable lights in the world : he reinvents traditional Japanese lanterns with his « Akari » series, distributed all over the world.

This series is an incredible ode to his dual origin, which he never forgot. His incessant travels between East and West are evocative and primordial : he is passionate about the Mingei movement, founded by Sori Yanagi’s father – author of the iconic « Butterfly » stool – underlining traditional Japanese craftsmanship, such as William Morris’s English Arts & Craft movement. During his first Japanese trip in 1950, he was invited to Gifu by the mayor of the city : Isamu Noguchi discovered the company Ozeki, historic place for traditional paper lanterns. Three protagonists agreed : on the idea of ​​the mayor and thanks to the producer, the artist reinvents these creations. From 1951 to his death in 1988, he designed more than a hundred different models. He chose generic term « Akari » to call the series, a Japanese word combining senses of light, solar light, and lightness. He managed to combine an extreme modernity with Japanese tradition. These Brancusian lightnings are true sculptures : there is a poetic magic in each one, characterized by an evanescent presence.

Isamu Noguchi is a jack-of-all-trades : sculptor, architect, designer, garden designer, scenographer. He used his American and Japanese origins to redefine a new way of seeing the arts, both contemplative and functional. « Akari » series is the perfect witness of his subtle work, between tradition and modernity, to create new standards in the arts in a global way.

A must-see place, a true temple is the Noguchi Museum (New York) : it is the only American museum opened by the artist himself, to exhibit his own works •

CATALOG :

Akari L8 ceiling light

ISAMU NOGUCHI1976

Akari 10A floor lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1952

Akari BB3/55DD floor lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1979

Akari 21N lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1969

IN 50 coffee table

ISAMU NOGUCHI1944

Akari BB2/K1 lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1979-1980

Akari J1 ceiling light

ISAMU NOGUCHI1979

Kaki-Persimmons sculpture

ISAMU NOGUCHI1983

Akari lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1951

Bamboo Chair

NOGUCHI & KENMOCHI1950/2008

Rudder Table

ISAMU NOGUCHI1944

Akari ceiling light

ISAMU NOGUCHI1951

Akari tricolor table lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1951

Akari 70EN ceiling light

ISAMU NOGUCHI1971

Akari 55A ceiling light

ISAMU NOGUCHI1954

IN 50 coffee table

ISAMU NOGUCHI1944

Akari 33N ceiling light

ISAMU NOGUCHI1969

Akari 30P ceiling light

ISAMU NOGUCHI1969

Akari 24N lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1969

Akari 75A ceiling light

ISAMU NOGUCHI1961

Pair ok Akari lamps

ISAMU NOGUCHI1951

86T stool

ISAMU NOGUCHI1953-1954

Akari 2A-UKAI lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1951

Akari UF3-XN floor lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1985

Rare 85T stool

ISAMU NOGUCHI1953-1954

IN 50 coffee table

ISAMU NOGUCHI1944

Akari L8 ceiling light

ISAMU NOGUCHI1976

IN 50 coffee table

ISAMU NOGUCHI1944

Akari BB3/33S floor lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1979

Akari BB3/55DD floor lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1979

Akari BB1/30DD lamp

ISAMU NOGUCHI1979