Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - Sunday, July 14, 2019

Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan focuses on the consequential friendship between Isamu Noguchi (1904–1988) and Saburo Hasegawa (1906–1957). Until his early death, Hasegawa was among the most renowned contemporary Japanese artists in the U.S., and credited with introducing European abstraction to Japan in his role as an active art historian, critic, and art theorist.

The brief yet productive relationship between the two artists was kindled during Noguchi’s visit to Japan in 1950, as together they sought to understand and process the fragmented postwar world and art’s potential role in reassembling it. Noguchi and Hasegawa were each thinking deeply about the relationship between tradition and modernity and between indigenous and foreign influences in postwar art and culture in Japan and in their own work. Together, they undertook a wide-ranging study of traditional Japanese design, culture, and aesthetics. Comprising about 90 works by both Noguchi and Hasegawa, the exhibition will trace influences of their dialogue in their contemporary and subsequent work.

Organized by The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York, Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan is curated by Dakin Hart, Senior Curator at The Noguchi Museum, and Mark Dean Johnson, Professor and Gallery Director at San Francisco State University. The exhibition will be on view at the Yokohama Museum of Art, in Japan, from January 12 to March 24, 2019; The Noguchi Museum from May 1 to July 14, 2019; and the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco from September 27 to December 8, 2019.


Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan is accompanied by a richly illustrated, bilingual catalogue published by University of California Press. With essays by curators Dakin Hart and Mark Dean Johnson, as well as other leading scholars, the publication also includes essays by Hasegawa and Noguchi—Hasegawa’s “Noguchi in Japan” (1950) and Noguchi’s “Remembrance of Saburo Hasegawa” (1976). In addition, The Saburo Hasegawa Reader will collect a valuable trove of material including the entire manuscript for a 1957 Hasegawa memorial volume, with its essays by philosopher Alan Watts, Oakland Museum Director Paul Mills, and Japan Times art writer Elise Grilli, as well as various unpublished writings by Hasegawa.

Saburo Hasegawa and Isamu Noguchi at Shisen-do Temple, Kyoto, 1950. Photograph by Michio Noguchi, The Noguchi Museum Archive. ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS).

The exhibition is made possible through the lead support of the Terra Foundation for American Art. Generous transportation assistance has been provided by ANA (All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd.). Major support has also been received from the National Endowment for the Arts and from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation. The exhibition is also supported, in part, with 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 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.