- Isamu Noguchi
- Akari & Shop
Reflecting in 1973 on his formative years as an artist, Noguchi remarked “I seem to have lost my facility but I was facile at drawing. I could do anything. It was easy for me.” Noguchi ’s Early Drawings bears out this confidence. Each of the drawings on view reveals a very different facet of his quest to form a unique artistic identity in the years following his apprenticeship with Brancusi. His search for style is brought into sharp focus by being restricted to the subject he returned to most often: the female nude. The selection of drawings on view covers exercises from the life drawing classes he took at Academie Collarosi and L’Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris in 1927, as well as his distillations of signature strains of Modernism he encountered in Paris and New York, including traces of artists as diverse as Picasso, Tsuguharu Foujita, Elie Nadelman, Matisse, Egon Schiele, and Arstide Maillol.
Throughout this period, Noguchi relied on drawing to keep his eye sharp for the portrait bust commissions by which he made a living, even as he used it as a tool for learning about abstraction. Like the busts, these drawings show his preternatural adaptability to sitter and circumstance. The ability to effortlessley mimic the styles of established artists has cut short as many careers as lack of talent. Facile technique does not at artist make. In these amazing drawings, so diverse and assured they could be the work of fourteen different artists, we see Noguchi at the critical moment when he could have gone either way.