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The Barbican in London Presents A Concise Look at the Pioneering Artist

October, 2021
Portrait of Isamu Noguchi, 4 July 1947. Photograph by Arnold Newman © Arnold Newman Collection / Getty Images / INFGM / ARS - DACS

London’s Barbican Centre presents a detailed view of Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s life’s work, sharing instrumental works from the artists extensive oeuvre in the first touring retrospective in Europe for 20 years. 

A celebrated sculptor, Noguchi believed sculpture should be so much more than just an inanimate and untouchable object. He proclaimed sculpture could ‘be a vital force in our everday life‘ and in many ways he prophesied what we now experience in the 21st century, sculpture which is dynamic, purposeful and interactive. Active in social and environmental issues, in additional to a profound spiritual consciousness, Noguchi’s life philosophies were prominent in his life’s work and achievements.

Isamu Noguchi, Paris Abstraction, 1927-1928 Gouache on paper, 65.4 x 50.2 cm. Photograph by Kevin Noble. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 02635 ©INFGM / ARS - DACS

A pioneering artist renowned around the world, Noguchi was a global citizen himself, expressed in his travels and multiple collaborations. Noguchi collaborated with choreographers, movement and dance practitioners, including Ruth Page, Merce Cunningham and Martha Graham.

Noguchi, offers Londoners to experience his work in the flesh. Pilgrimages are made to the Noguchi museum in New York, and the Isamu Noguchi Garden Museum in Takamatsu, Japan, as well as journeys to his site-specific works around the world. Here at the exhibition in London, over 150 works have been curated and collated, an extensive view on Noguchi’s whole body of work.

From sculpture (proving he was a master of materials, from works hand crafted in stone, ceramics, wood and aluminium) to theatre set designs and playground models, to furniture and lighting designs. Screened performances of Martha Graham’s solo Lamentation, by Yolande Yorke-Edgell and Freya Jeffs of Yorke Dance Project, are exhibited in the gallery, difficult to be found anywhere else in their full capacity.

Isamu Noguchi assembling "Figure" in his MacDougal Alley studio, 1944. Photograph by Rudolph Burckhardt. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 03765 ©INFGM / ARS - DACS / Estate of Rudolph Burckhardt
Isamu Noguchi, Sculpture To Be Seen From Mars, 1947. Sand, Dimensions unknown Photograph by Soichi Sunami. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 01646 ©INFGM / ARS – DACS

‘Everything is sculpture. Any material, any idea without hindrance born into space, I consider sculpture.
Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi, Akari 25N, 1968 117x83cm. Photograph by Kevin Noble. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 03066 ©INFGM / ARS - DACS
Isamu Noguchi, Trinity (Triple), 1945 (fabricated 1988) Bronze plate, 141.6 x 56.5 x 49.5 cm. Photograph by Kevin Noble. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 9891 ©INFGM / ARS – DACS

‘Sculpture can be a vital force in our everyday life if projected into communal usefulness.’
Isamu Noguchi

Isamu Noguchi, Peking Brush Drawing, 1930 Ink on paper, 89.2 x 146.1 cm. Photograph by Kevin Noble. The Noguchi Museum Archives, 01213 ©INFGM / ARS - DACS
Isamu Noguchi, Manufactured by Zenith Radio Corp. Radio Nurse and Guardian Ear, 1937 Bakelite. Radio Nurse: 21 x 17.1 x 15.9 cm. Guardian Ear: 15.9 x 10.8 x 21 cm Photograph by Kevin Noble ©INFGM / ARS – DACS

Barbican Art Gallery, London, UK
30 September 2021 – 9 January 2022


Written by Monique Kawecki | Editor In Chief 

October, 2021