WEST BRETTON, UK.- Works range from monumental sculpture situated in landscaped gardens to smaller interior works, designs, drawings, furniture, dance sets, and works on paper. The first major European exhibition of work by renowned Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi (1904–88) opens on July 18, 2008, at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, England. Isamu Noguchi at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, which remains on view until February 22, 2009, has been developed by Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) in collaboration with The Noguchi Museum, in New York City, and is curated by YSP Director Peter Murray.
Installed in the historic landscape and indoor galleries at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the exhibition reveals the extraordinary breadth and depth of Noguchi’s oeuvre with more than 150 works. Included are magnificent stone carvings, ranging in size from small interior works to large-scale sculptures sited in the open air, as well as important designs, models, furniture, and works on paper. Together, these offer a compelling picture of Noguchi’s protean creativity, as well as the ways in which he crossed the boundaries between sculpture and utilitarian object, and between art and design.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park Founding Director Peter Murray states, “Isamu Noguchi’s achievements are especially significant in an era in which the lines once drawn between ‘fine art’ and ‘design,’ and between various forms of art, have been questioned.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is proud to present such a diverse selection of Noguchi’s work, illuminating the artist’s belief in integrating art and daily life, as well as his ability to work in multiple mediums simultaneously. We are delighted to be working in close collaboration with The Noguchi Museum to present this comprehensive exhibition by one of the great artists of the twentieth century.”
Noguchi Museum Director Jenny Dixon adds, “The Noguchi Museum has never loaned as many works to an organization as it has to YSP, an indication of how important we believe this exhibition to be. It is surprising that, although Isamu Noguchi was one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, and a peripatetic traveler whose works can be found across the globe, this is the first major European presentation of his work. The Noguchi Museum is delighted to help bring the work to new audiences, and is grateful to Peter Murray for initiating this project.”
Exhibition Isamu Noguchi at Yorkshire Sculpture Park encompasses the span of the artist’s career with works dating from 1928 to 1987. On loan primarily from The Noguchi Museum, with select items coming from The Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum Japan, in Mure, the 155 works in the exhibition include approximately eighty sculptures, as well as three-dimensional works created for the theater, showing the full range and development of Noguchi’s sculptural achievement over time. Highlights of the works sited outdoors include the large-scale To Darkness (1965–66), a multipart sculpture that is a centerpiece of The Noguchi Museum’s esteemed Sculpture Garden; Sun at Midnight (1973), a granite sculpture with a large void at its center; and Age (1981), a six-foot-high, textural work in basalt.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park’s award-winning Underground Gallery houses an exceptionally broad range of sculpture, drawings, and models. Both figurative and early abstract works are included here, as are stunning examples that stretch the boundaries between the two. Many of the latter, such as the brass sculptures Sail Shape and Leda, dating from 1928, along with a series of six gouaches from the same period, reveal the powerful effect of Noguchi’s apprenticeship in Constantin Brancusi’s Paris studio (1927–28), an experience that prompted the young artist to turn from the academic, figurative work he had been focusing on towards abstraction.
Noguchi’s celebrated set designs for the Martha Graham Dance Company, as well as for other avant-garde dance and theater companies, are represented by a rich selection of twenty studies on paper, as well as numerous actual components of the sets, objects intended to be danced on or around. The fruits of a nearly forty-year, sustained collaboration, the Graham sets are regarded by many as a high point in the history of modern dance theater. Moreover, viewing them in the context of the other work in Isamu Noguchi at Yorkshire Sculpture Park reveals the ways in which Noguchi’s efforts for the theater informed his studio practice, and vice versa.
Also installed in the Underground Gallery are models and drawings for some of the artist’s famed public spaces, including the United Nations Playground (1952–58) and the sculpture garden at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (1960–64), as well as fourteen large stone sculptures and several bronzes dating from 1962 to 1985.
For its Garden Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park is working with Vitra, London, to install a selection of Noguchi-designed furniture—including his celebrated coffee table (1944) and Knoll Table (1950)—along with furniture by other designers who were influenced by Noguchi. In keeping with the intent of these designs, visitors are able to purchase the furniture seen in this gallery.
The Yorkshire Sculpture Park Visitor Center is illuminated by more than twenty of the exquisite paper-and-wire lights that the artist called his Akari Light Sculptures.
Created in a great variety of forms and sizes, from a globe that measures six feet in diameter to ten-by-fifteen-inch table lamps, these are among the most successful embodiments of the artist’s desire to integrate art with daily life. Noguchi eventually created more than 100 models for the Akari lamps, and many of them are still in production a half-century later.
Isamu Noguchi at Yorkshire Sculpture Park is generously supported by The Henry Moore Foundation, the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, The Japan Foundation, and The United States Embassy, London.
International Symposium - Yorkshire Sculpture Park and York St. John University are organizing a major international symposium related to the exhibition. To be held on September 11 and 12, 2008, and titled “Disciplined Practice? Art and Design beyond the Boundaries,” it will seek to contest the Western division between art and design, and to debate and illuminate the transmission of knowledge and ideas across these creative areas. Details about participants will be available on the YSP website: www.ysp.co.uk.