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
Artists at Noguchi | Sarah Cahill Performs Mamoru Fujieda's Patterns of Plants
Wednesday, February 24, 2016 - Sunday, February 28, 2016

For one week in February, the chill and grey skies of winter will dissipate for visitors to The Noguchi Museum’s ground-floor galleries, where internationally celebrated pianist Sarah Cahill will take up residence, performing Mamoru Fujieda’s stunning cycle of short pieces titled Patterns of Plants throughout the Museum’s opening hours.

A masterpiece by one of the leading postminimalist composers, Patterns of Plants (1996–2011) represents an extraordinary fusion of nature and technology. To create the piece, Fujieda measured the electrical impulses on the leaves of plants using the "Plantron," a device created by botanist/artist Yūji Dōgane, and converted the data he obtained into sound with Max, a visual programming language used for music and multimedia. He then identified musical patterns within the sound, and used them as the basis for these miniatures.

Both captivating and profound, Patterns of Plants has been arranged for different instruments and ensembles. In 2014, Cahill made the first solo piano recording of it to be available outside of Japan, released on the Pinna Records label.

Museum of Stones
Wednesday, October 7, 2015 - Sunday, January 10, 2016

Think of a circumstance in which rock and water rub up against each other: in a river gorge, along a coast, where a gutter empties onto a flagstone, or rain falls regularly on a travertine wall. At any given moment, rock is the sculptor and water is the material. Expand the timeline a bit, however, and the relationship reverses; water becomes the sculptor and rock the material. A creative awareness of this paradox, as refracted through a kaleidoscope of different cultural traditions, is The Noguchi Museum in a nutshell.

As a yin-yang, this reciprocal relationship between water and stone is one of a pile of material, allegorical, literary, scientific, metaphorical, artistic, structural, and cultural contexts in which stone operated in Noguchi’s imagination and as a touchstone for his work. The rock with which David killed Goliath; Scylla and Charybdis, the proverbial rock and hard place; the fact that one translation of calculus is pebble--as in the counters used in the development of mathematics (and in voting) in the ancient, Latin-speaking world; the walls that say so much about us in separating my things from your things all over the planet; the glacial erratics and other natural “miracles” that helped inspire the systematic approach to inquiry that became the scientific method; standing stones, humanity’s earliest attempts to dominate nature and explain existence, and the memorials by which we try to deny the insignificance of a biological lifespan on a geologic timescale. These points of reference frame the works in the exhibition.

Museum of Stones grew initially out of the artist Jimmie Durham’s critique of sculpture and architecture as stone denaturing regimes that advance the Western European notion that we need to establish impenetrable bulwarks against time, nature and each other. Much of Durham’s work aims to restore to stone some of the capriciousness, liveliness, transience and impressionability it exhibits in nature. The exhibition is an attempt to fuse Durham’s critique with an appreciation for the ways in which rock and stone act as barometers of civilization and its disconnects. Noguchi believed, as the Japanese tend to, that rock and stone have a lifecycle they should be allowed to experience in full, but he also recognized rock and stone as the seminal raw materials of technology and believed deeply in their use.

Noguchi learned to square a block of marble—and then to transform it into an abstract icon of Modernism—from Constantin Brancusi, the high priest of command and control carving, and he ended his career, at least in one of his many modes, as something closer to a process artist: not conjuring images from stone but exploring materials, often through processes at some remove from his own hand. It’s not that he gave one approach up for another so much as that he allowed different paradigms to accumulate, complicating his thinking and his work, over time.

His ambivalence is encompassed by one definition of the semantic difference between rock and stone: nature makes rocks; we make stones. If all goes to plan, the exhibition will create a series of boundary layers in which rocks and stones are difficult to differentiate from each other.

Museum of Stones is the first exhibition in the Museum’s history to insert the work of contemporary artists into the original Noguchi installation. The exhibition will include approximately fifty works by approximately thirty artists, installed throughout the Museum. It will also feature an installation of fifteen Chinese rock-related objects on loan from The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

 

Image: Installation view of Museum of Stones. Photo: Elizabeth Felicella.

Isamu Noguchi at Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Tuesday, September 8, 2015 - Sunday, December 13, 2015

This fall, sculptures from The Noguchi Museum will be on display at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). Curated by Noguchi Museum Senior Curator Dakin Hart, the works will be sited throughout BBG’s outdoor and indoor public gardens.

The centerpiece of Isamu Noguchi at Brooklyn Botanic Garden will be a selection of some six works sited in BBG’s Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. Additional Noguchi sculptures will be installed in other spaces within BBG.

 

Image: Test installation of Isamu Noguchi's Strange Bird on turtle island in the Japanese Hill and Pond Garden, Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Liz Ligon; courtesy Brooklyn Botanic Garden and The Noguchi Museum.

Editing Area 5: A Re-installation and Progressive De-installation of Noguchi's Bronze Gallery
Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - Sunday, September 20, 2015

Before it became the Video Room (and then reverted back to a changing gallery in 2013), Area 5 was a gallery featuring 1960s-era bronzes. This summer it will be installed as close as possible to its original state--before the elevator went in, when the space was longer, had two additional doorways and was more open to Area 3. The exhibition will open with nine objects installed. On a regular schedule throughout the summer (approximately every two weeks), one or two pieces will be removed, with the aim being to leave the gallery looking, at every stage, like it had always been installed in its current state. In the end, only Stone of Spiritual Understanding will be left in an otherwise empty space.

In our 30th anniversary year the idea of the exhibition is to highlight Noguchi's original installation and the complex task of editing it--when necessary (as in the case of fundamental changes to the building or when pieces go out on loan), as well as when programmatically desirable. Additionally, the show will provide an opportunity to consider the importance, and the subjectivity and transience, of specific installation aesthetics. If it works, it should be legitimately possible to prefer it at different stages all the way along: from a quite densely-installed survey to a focused display of a single-object.

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Highlights from the Collection: Iconic Display
Wednesday, February 4, 2015 - Sunday, September 13, 2015

*Please note that this exhibition will not be on view between Wednesday, May 13 and Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

As part of its ongoing series of installations from the collection, the Museum presents Iconic Display.

Whether we realize it or not, and whether we consent to it or not, the contexts in which we encounter art are irremovable frames. The excerpted installations are ones that have proven epochal in shaping the critical interpretation and public perception of specific bodies of Noguchi's work--for better and for worse. They include Noguchi's participation in Fourteen Americans at MoMA (1946); his first Japanese exhibition, which took place in a Tokyo department store (1950); an installation by the architect Arata Isozaki for the Seibu Museum of Art (1985); and contemporaneous attempts, through exhibitions and photographs, to make sense of one of his largest and least well-understood bodies of work--the 26 galvanized steel editions he made for Gemini G.E.L. in the early 1980s.

 

 

Images (top to bottom):
Isamu Noguchi, Mitsukoshi Department Store (Tokyo, Japan), August 18 - 27, 1950, exhibition installation photograph
Isamu Noguchi: Space of Akari & Stone, Yurakucho Art Forum, Designed by Arata Isozaki, February 9 - 20, 1985, exhibition installation photograph
Isamu Noguchi's Rain Mountain in the parking lot behind Gemini G.E.L., c. 1984
Isamu Noguchi: Gemini G.E.L., Storm King Art Center (Mountainville, NY), May 15 - October 15, 1984, exhibition installation photograph

Noguchi + Pratt: An Exhibition
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 - Sunday, June 28, 2015

In spring of 2015, graduate interior design students from Pratt Institute were challenged to draw inspiration from Isamu Noguchi's work.

The students researched Noguchi's history, studied select objects included in the Museum's Highlights from the Collection: Iconic Display exhibition, and applied their knowledge to design a hypothetical annex for the Museum in the Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO.

Part of the project called for students to design a temporary exhibition for the space using the subjects of their research. On display will be design proposals, drawings, and student analyses of Noguchi objects.

 

Images: Left: Isamu Noguchi. Avatar. 1947 (cast 1983). Photo by Kevin Noble. Right: Carol Andrews. Avatar analytical drawing.