Noguchi, Isamu (ēsäˈmō nōgōˈchē) [key], 1904–88, American sculptor, b. Los Angeles. The son of a Japanese poet father and an American mother, he was a student of Gutzon Borglum and won Guggenheim fellowships (1927 and 1928) that permitted him to study in Paris under Brancusi. In his work in stone, wood, and metal he integrated European modernism with Japanese traditionalism, harmonizing rough and smooth, geometric and organic. He created many independent pieces of sculpture and is also well known for the abstract sculptural elements he designed as adjuncts to architecture, highly integrated environmental work such as the massive red cube made for the Marine Midland Bank building, New York City, and the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (1969). Noguchi also created many playgrounds and stone sculpture gardens, e.g., in Mexico City and the UNESCO garden, Paris (1958). He also designed numerous striking stage sets and props for the Martha Graham dance company and items for the home, many of which have become modernist classics, such as his kidney-shaped, glass-topped, wood-based coffee table and his airy paper lanterns. He is the author of A Sculptor's World (1968). There are Noguchi museums in his former studios in Long Island City, New York, and in Japan.
See studies by S. Takiguchi et al. (1953) and J. Gordon (1968); C. Zwerin, dir., Sculpture of Spaces: Noguchi (documentary film, 1995).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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