Installation view, What is Sculpture? Akari from the 1986 Venice Biennale at The Noguchi Museum

What is Sculpture? Akari from the 1986 Venice Biennale

February 18, 2009 – May 31, 2009

When Isamu Noguchi was invited to represent the United States in the 1986 Venice Biennale, he juxtaposed stone sculpture with his Akari Light Sculptures to communicate his ideas on the reflexive relationship between the material he employed and his belief in the inner “essence” of sculpture. Noguchi had been experimenting with the conventional Japanese lamp’s mulberry paper and bamboo construction for over three decades, adapting its form to express the contrast between permanence and the transitory, between the traditional and modern invention, and between fine and functional art. Akari translates as “light as illumination.” For Noguchi, light acted as one aspect of the perception of space, and space was a central concern of his career. The Noguchi Museum will present a small but significant display of Noguchi’s Akari Light Sculptures, as they were featured in the American Pavilion at the 1986 Venice Biennale exhibition, with several one-of-a kind designs balanced by smaller, iconic forms that remain in production today.