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Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan

Friday, September 27, 2019 - Sunday, December 8, 2019

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

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 traces 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. This major traveling exhibition premiered at the Yokohama Museum of Art, January 12 to March 24, 2019; and was on view at The Noguchi Museum from May 1 to July 14, 2019.


Screen diptych by Saburo Hasegawa with Isamu Noguchi’s ceramic wall sculpture Skin and Bones and Akari light sculpture in Noguchi’s studio in Kita Kamakura, Japan, c. 1952. Photograph in the Noguchi Museum Archive. ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, NY / ARS.

Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan is made possible through lead support from 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, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and The Japan 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.

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