Filmmaker Marie Menken holding a Bolex 16mm film camera

A Glorious Bewilderment: Marie Menken’s ‘Visual Variations on Noguchi’

September 27, 2023 – February 4, 2024

Between 1945–46, the pioneering experimental filmmaker Marie Menken (1909–1970) made her first solo film: a four-minute, black-and-white work entitled Visual Variations on Noguchi. While alone in Isamu Noguchi’s MacDougal Alley studio in Greenwich Village, New York City, Menken moved quickly between and around his sculptures, rapidly manipulating a 16mm Bolex camera to achieve radical shifts of perspective. With this frenetic film, Menken pioneered a new and highly influential hand-held filmic strategy and simultaneously produced a riotous and disorienting portrait of Noguchi’s work in motion. In 1953, composer Lucia Dlugoszewski (1925–2000), a friend of both Menken and Noguchi, produced an equally jarring score for the film which pieces together a haunting collage of discordant sounds.

Pairing Visual Variations on Noguchi, projected in its original 16mm format, with a selection of Noguchi’s related sculptures, this exhibition explores the interplay and affinities between these three artists’ practices and celebrate Menken’s invitation to bring the full force of our moving bodies to Noguchi’s work. As Noguchi said, “Sculptures move because we move.” This exhibition, which spans most of the Museum’s second floor, marks the first time the film will be screened at The Noguchi Museum and coincides with the 100th anniversary year of the invention of 16mm film.

A Glorious Bewilderment is organized by Kate Wiener, Curator at The Noguchi Museum.

Exhibition Brochure

The Noguchi Museum extends a special thank you to Anthology Film Archives; Erick Hawkins Dance Foundation, Inc.; The Film-Makers’ Cooperative; Music Division, Library of Congress; and Mono No Aware.

Exhibitions at The Noguchi Museum are supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council and from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.