Past Exhibitions

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View photographs and learn more about past exhibitions at The Noguchi Museum and other institutions around the world.

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04.01.03
Pratt + Noguchi
Saturday, May 12, 2018 - Sunday, May 20, 2018

A collaboration between The Noguchi Museum and Pratt Institute, Interior Design.

Each Spring, Pratt Institute’s Interior Design Graduate Level Qualifying Design Studio course asks students to draw inspiration from Isamu Noguchi’s work.

This year, students chose objects from the Museum’s permanent collection on long-term view and highlights from the Akari: Sculpture by Other Means exhibition to research and incorporate into a hypothetical Noguchi Museum Annex in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn.

Work from all participating students is exhibited at The Noguchi Museum in the lower-level gallery; including drawings, examples of object analysis, and four select student projects in their entirety.

Image: Isamu Noguchi with Lessons of Musokokushi, 1966, in his Long Island City studio. Photo: Niki Ekstrom. ©INFGM / ARS.

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The Sculpture of Gonzalo Fonseca
Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Noguchi Museum presents a retrospective exhibition of the sculptural work of Gonzalo Fonseca (1922–97), a major figure in the development of modern Latin American art who created some of the most enchanting sculptures of his day. The exhibition encompasses some 80 objects, primarily works in stone from the mid-1960s to the 1990s, complemented by selected drawings and sketchbooks.

The Sculpture of Gonzalo Fonseca is organized in partnership with the Estate of Gonzalo Fonseca and curated by Senior Curator Dakin Hart. It is the first museum exhibition of Fonseca’s work in New York since 1971.

Trained as a painter, Fonseca was among a group of exceptional artists who emerged from the theory-rich studio of Uruguayan modernist Joaquín Torres-García in the 1940s. He became a sculptor in the mid-1960s, when the language of forms he had invented in two dimensions seems finally to have demanded development in three. Working first in found limestone, brownstone, and sandstone in New York City, and later, additionally, in a wide variety of marbles in Italy—in the same stone-working community as Isamu Noguchi—he produced wall reliefs, freestanding structures, and sculptures.

A voracious polymath, Fonseca steeped himself in the natural sciences, linguistics, and history, and his sculptures often feel synthesized from, or like an index to, the contents of the lost Library of Alexandria. They are complex fictions: at once playful and serious, austere and whimsical, childlike and, above all, archetypal. Fonseca was interested in the commonalities among Earth’s civilizations, and in how they might be abstracted in a universal vocabulary of forms. In a sense, he spent his entire life reverse engineering the Tower of Babel, that great symbol of human ambition, pluralism, and impermanence. But though the sculptures appear inextricably connected to the ancient world, their intent is more postmodern than archaeological. To encounter them is to enter, as one does at The Noguchi Museum, a virtual encyclopedia of ideas about the relationship between space, place, and human understanding.

Learn more about the artist at gonzalofonseca.com.

The Sculpture of Gonzalo Fonseca is part of the Museum’s ongoing efforts to illuminate the many contexts in which Noguchi worked, and to encourage the broadest possible understanding of his vision.


Publications

On the occasion of the exhibition, The Noguchi Museum has produced two chapbooks: Gonzalo Fonseca: Four Sculptures and Gonzalo Fonseca: At Scale. The Museum is also working with the Gonzalo Fonseca Estate to produce a new monograph on the artist.


Film

Membra Disjecta: Gonzalo Fonseca and the Heart of Stone, a new biographical film by Michael Gregory, received a special advance screening at the Museum to coincide with the exhibition. Read more


Images, from top: Gonzalo Fonseca in his quarry studio in Seravezza, Italy, c. 1979. Photo courtesy of the Estate of Gonzalo Fonseca. Gonzalo Fonseca, Tebaida, 1973–79. Limestone. 27 9/16 x 16 9/16 x 19 5/16 in. Gonzalo Fonseca, Montevideo Ship, 1987. Bronze and gold. 33 1/16 x 7 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. Gonzalo Fonseca, Untitled, 1971. Ink on paper. 18 1/8 x 24 in. Photos (3) by EPW Studio/Maris Hutchinson.

The Sculpture of Gonzalo Fonseca is organized in collaboration with the Estate of Gonzalo Fonseca. The exhibition is supported with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts. Additional support for the exhibition and publications has been provided by the J.M. Kaplan Fund.
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Self-Interned, 1942: Noguchi in Poston War Relocation Center
Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - Sunday, January 28, 2018

February 19, 2017, marks the 75th anniversary of Executive Order 9066, the notorious wartime directive that authorized the internment of Japanese citizens and American citizens of Japanese heritage living in the Western United States. This exhibition explores Noguchi’s extraordinary decision—despite being exempt from internment as a resident of New York—to enter the Poston War Relocation Center, in the Arizona desert, hoping to contribute something positive to this forcibly displaced community, to which he had never felt more connected. In Noguchi’s words, “Thus I willfully became part of humanity uprooted.”

Curated by Noguchi Museum Senior Curator Dakin Hart, Self-Interned, 1942 brings together about two dozen works from the Museum’s collection, dating from before, during, and after Noguchi’s time at Poston, along with a substantial selection of archival documents. Together these evoke this harrowing moment in the history of American democracy, while revealing the impact that his experience at Poston had on Noguchi’s art.

The exhibition opens with a roughly chronological installation of about a dozen sculptures dating from 1941, the year before Noguchi entered the camp, to 1944, the year after he returned to New York City. Together, these trace the development of his work during the crucial period when he made the transition from his early figurative work to the modernist style for which he became known. Later works in this section show Noguchi exploring working in wood, one of the few materials that was both readily available and workable with limited equipment. Other works show how, during the years immediately following his release from the camp, Noguchi vacillated between excoriating satire—as in This Tortured Earth (1942–43) and Yellow Landscape (1943), the latter of which implicates the entire planet in the toxic anti-Asian stereotyping that swept the United States following December 7, 1941—and such consolatory subjects as Mother and Child, a simple, near-abstract work in onyx from the last years of the war—but before August 6, 1945.

The exhibition concludes with “Gateways,” and “Deserts,” side-by-side displays of works dating from the mid-fifties to mid-eighties that testify to the enduring impact of Noguchi’s experience as a wartime internee. “Gateways” comprises about six of the artist’s signature voids, doorways, and donut-shaped suns: literal and psychological portals that he hoped would offer transport to alternative perspectives and other states of mind.

“Deserts” examines the ways that the fundamental qualities of the desert landscape—stripped down, flat, and deceptively simple—became integral to landscape references in Noguchi’s art. Works such as Cactus Wind (1982–83), for example, show him working low to the ground in an ascetic, wind-and-sand-scoured mode that is near impossible not to understand as relating to a state of mind; while Double Red Mountain (1969), a table sculpture in Persian travertine, demonstrates his talent for essentializing the way the desert isolates and de-scales its major physical features, an approach that became a blueprint for Noguchi’s later microcosmic landscapes.

Read “I Become A Nisei,” 1942, unpublished essay by Isamu Noguchi for ‘Reader's Digest’ (PDF).

View a reconstruction of Isamu Noguchi’s plan for Park and Recreation Areas at Poston, Arizona, 1942 (JPG).


Instagram #SelfInterned1942

Press Release (PDF)

Educator Guide (PDF)


Installation views, here and on home page, by Nicholas Knight. Collection images, from top: Poston Park and Recreation Areas at Poston, Arizona, 1942. Blueprint. Untitled, 1943. Wood, string. Double Red Mountain, 1969. Persian red travertine on Japanese pine. Photos by Kevin Noble / ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS). 

Self-Interned,1942 and its related public and educational programs are supported by the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.
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Isamu Noguchi: From Sculpture to Body and Garden
Friday, November 17, 2017 - Sunday, January 21, 2018

Oita Prefectural Art Museum, Oita, Japan

Isamu Noguchi, who hoped to recover the link between art and society, is one of the major artists of the twentieth century. With selected works from New York and Japan, the exhibition introduces the world to his art and his revolutionary vision. Read more at opam.jp.

Photo: Michio Noguchi.

Noguchi’s Playscapes
Saturday, July 15, 2017 - Sunday, November 26, 2017

SFMoMA, 151 Third Street, San Francisco, CA.

Organized by the Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo and the Fundacíon Olga y Rufino Tamayo, A.C., in collaboration with The Noguchi Museum.

Isamu Noguchi explored the sculptural medium throughout his career, often extending beyond the gallery into the commercial and public realm through design. Observing that playgrounds offer a physical and social interaction not typically seen in a museum, he designed a number of public spaces where visitors could physically and actively engage with art. Noguchi’s Playscapes, organized by the Museo Tamayo, revisits his designs for several playgrounds, as well as stand-alone play structures. Through models, sketches, set designs, and archival images, the exhibition offers a view of Noguchi’s vision for new experiences of art, education, and humanity through play. While few were realized, Noguchi’s playscapes continue to inspire contemporary designers to consider play as a strategy for building community and stimulating creativity in the everyday. More details at sfmoma.org.

Image: Isamu Noguchi, Maquette for US Pavilion Expo, 1970. Painted plaster. © The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, NY.

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Solid Doubts: Robert Stadler at The Noguchi Museum
Wednesday, April 26, 2017 - Sunday, September 10, 2017

Continuing the Museum’s collaboration with contemporary artists of all disciplines, the category-defying works of Robert Stadler (Austria, b. 1966) are installed in tandem with Noguchi’s sculptures, raising as many aesthetic, functional, and philosophical questions as possible.

With four installations of the two mens’ work in the Museum’s ground-level galleries and sculpture garden, the exhibition explores ways in which both Robert Stadler and Isamu Noguchi probe—and sometimes undermine—concepts such as “art” and “design,” “functional” and “aesthetic,” “material” and “space.”

Solid Doubts is organized by The Noguchi Museum and curated by Noguchi Museum Senior Curator Dakin Hart in collaboration with Robert Stadler.

Photos: Nicholas Knight. All Robert Stadler works are courtesy of the artist/Carpenters Workshop Gallery. Major support for Solid Doubts: Robert Stadler at The Noguchi Museum is provided by Van Cleef & Arpels, FACE (French American Cultural Exchange) Foundation; through Oui Design–supported by Institut Français-Paris, the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, FACE Foundation, the Florence Gould Foundation, Van Cleef & Arpels, Air France–and Bundeskanzleramt Österreich-Federal Chancellery of Austria, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts. Generous assistance has also been provided by Carpenters Workshop Gallery. The artist’s transportation and accommodations are supported by the Austrian Cultural Forum New York.