Space, Choreographed: Noguchi and Ruth Page was developed as a collaboration between The Noguchi Museum and The Ruth Page Foundation, building on a group of drawings Noguchi made of the great American avant garde dancer and choreographer Ruth Page posing in a sack dress he designed in 1933 to transform her into a dynamic embodiment of his sculpture Miss Expanding Universe (1932).
That piece had emerged from Noguchi’s extensive efforts to find a distinctive way to abstract the human figure—efforts greatly enhanced by his contact with modern dance, and Page’s form in particular, and his study of ink wash painting with the Chinese painter Qi Baishi. Page, Noguchi, and Noguchi’s best friend, the eccentric futurist genius R. Buckminster Fuller—a sort of Three Musketeers of American ability and aspiration—had been captivated by a series of lectures popularizing Edwin Hubble’s recent discovery that the universe was neither static nor tidily Copernican. It is hard to conceive a better visual metaphor for Hubble’s new picture of the universe, a pulsating amoeba of out-rushing matter, than Page in Noguchi’s sack dress.
The exhibition explores Noguchi and Page’s personal relationship and their two professional collaborations: the constellation of objects and performances that includes Miss Expanding Universe, the dress and the dances it inspired, and Page’s post-World War II dance The Bells, based on Edgar Allen Poe’s poem of the same name, for which Noguchi designed costumes and a set. The exhibition has been scheduled to coincide with Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930, also on view at the Museum this fall.
Space, Choreographed: Noguchi and Ruth Page is made possible by The Ruth Page Foundation, Thea K. Flaum and Robert A. Hill, Salme Harju and Michael S. Steinberg, and The Davis and Lynn Kravis Family Foundation.