Past Exhibitions

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View photographs and learn more about past exhibitions at The Noguchi Museum and other institutions around the world.

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04.01.03
Isamu Noguchi: 2D to 3D
Friday, May 17, 2019 - Sunday, May 19, 2019

Draw Art Fair London, Saatchi Gallery

In partnership with Draw Art Fair London, The Noguchi Museum presents an installation highlighting Isamu Noguchi’s inventive use of two-dimensional materials in the process of creating sculptures and spaces, often combining methods from various creative disciplines. The installation features a number of his rarely-seen small paper maquettes for sculpture.

Isamu Noguchi, Maquettes for sculpture, c.1960s. Pencil on cut paper. Collection of The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York. Photo: Kevin Noble. ©INFGM / ARS

Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint
Friday, November 16, 2018 - Monday, April 22, 2019

M+ Pavilion, West Kowloon Cultural District, Hong Kong

Noguchi for Danh Vo: Counterpoint presents art and design works by Isamu Noguchi in dialogue with work by Danh Vo (Danish, born Vietnam, 1975). For this exhibition, M+ Museum collaborates closely with Vo—one of the most critically acclaimed artists today—and The Noguchi Museum on the selection and installation of Noguchi’s wide-ranging work. This collaboration offers a new reading and, at the same time, defines a new relationship between the two artists.

Read more at westkowloon.hk.

Photo ©Nick Ash / Danh Vo.

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Akari: Sculpture by Other Means
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - Sunday, April 14, 2019

Akari: Sculpture by Other Means occupies the Museum’s second-floor galleries. It includes several installations that allow visitors to experience ways that Isamu Noguchi’s Akari—a modular ecosystem of lightweight, collapsible paper lanterns—can create and transform space. 

Noguchi’s electrified paper, bamboo, and metal Akari light sculptures have quietly become among the most ubiquitous sculptures on Earth. Their origins lie in 1951 when, on a trip to a still devastated post-war Japan, Noguchi was asked by the mayor of the small town of Gifu City to help revitalize the local lantern industry by creating a modern lamp for export using the traditional washi paper (made by hand from the inner bark of the mulberry tree) and bamboo.

Inspired by the lanterns that illuminated night fishing on the Nagara River, Noguchi worked with local firm Ozeki & Co. to combine the elements of the traditional paper lantern with electricity. He designed a dizzying array of new forms—creating contemporary art by marrying ancient craft with the defining technology of the twentieth-century. He would go on to create more than 200 models of Akari, including an entire line for his exhibition for the American Pavilion at the 1986 Venice Biennale, in the process receiving five American and thirty-one Japanese patents.

The installations in Sculpture by Other Means create a series of environments that convey the essential values of Akari, drawing on the organizational, structural and ephemeral qualities of nature, and exemplifying Noguchi’s concept of light as both place and object. These include the chamber-like Akari PL1 and an eight-foot cube made of illuminated PL2 panels.

Also featured is the Akari 200D, a two-meter wide globe Noguchi made for his 1986 Venice Biennale presentation (titled, tellingly, Isamu Noguchi: What is Sculpture?). Designed in 1985, the 200D is the largest Akari that Noguchi ever created. It is displayed here as it was at the Biennale, in a large wood-frame box, based on a Japanese display niche, that Noguchi made for that exhibition.

The exhibition’s selection of archival material comprises vintage photographs, advertisements, and Akari brochures, all suggesting Noguchi’s thinking about the presentation of Akari as a continually shifting enterprise. Other materials document the numerous exhibitions of Akari between 1952 and 1985, in the home-furnishings marketplace, in galleries, and culminating in his presentation at the 1986 Venice Biennale.

A companion exhibition, Akari Unfolded: A Collection by YMER&MALTA, will present a selection of 26 lamps created by this leading French studio in collaboration with six designers. Read more


From top: Isamu Noguchi, Akari 30D (designed 1963). Akari informational poster, c.1950s. Homepage: Editorial photograph with Akari 1AS (designed 1953), for Harper’s Bazaar. Photograph by Louise Dahl-Wolfe. Installation view, Akari Cloud. Photograph by Nicholas Knight. ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum / Artists Rights Society (ARS).

Sculpture by Other Means is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by 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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Akari Unfolded: A Collection by YMER&MALTA
Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - Sunday, April 14, 2019

Akari Unfolded: A Collection by YMER&MALTA presents a selection of 26 lamps created by the leading French design studio in collaboration with six designers.

Over the last nine years, YMER&MALTA founder Valérie Maltaverne has breathed extraordinary life into what the French call savoir faire (“know how”) a shorthand for France’s centuries-old luxury craft industries. The key has been her ability to marry her love and respect for those industries with her creative desire to see them evolve: not merely by trying to keep up with contemporary tastes but through the incorporation of new technologies and concepts into their core traditions.

Maltaverne’s collaborative methodology comes out of her experience, in a previous career, as a film producer. YMER&MALTA employs multiple designers (emerging and established) and artisans (traditional and cutting edge), with whom Maltaverne collaborates in the role of auteur. Everything that YMER&MALTA produces is an expression of her sensibilities and her determination to synthesize the old and the new by innovating from within the traditional crafts with which she engages.

Noguchi conceptualized his own anti-nostalgic engagement with craft cultures as the true development of old traditions. Akari, his most complete and important expansion of the envelope of sculpture—and the apotheosis of his efforts to give the past a new future—was, like Maltaverne’s work in savoir faire, on the scale of industry. The principal innovation in Akari was the introduction of an electric bulb to a traditionally candle-powered paper lantern, which produced modern lamps with the timeless life-force of natural light.

For nearly two decades (1956–74) the most sensitive, daring, and sympathetic Akari retailer in the world was Steph Simon Gallery in Paris, best-known for introducing and championing the designs of Jean Prouvé and Charlotte Perriand. Thanks to Simon, Akari have had an especially strong impact on design in France. Maltaverne herself bought Akari there and has lived with and been motivated by them for many years. The present project, YMER&MALTA’s first to reach outside French craft, came out of a 2016 visit to The Noguchi Museum during which Maltaverne decided to apply her model to Akari. The challenge was to see whether she might—treating Akari as the tradition—extend its fundamental alchemies, what Noguchi called the intrinsic qualities of craft whose products cannot be successfully falsified (as the many Akari knockoffs demonstrate), into the future.

Ultimately, YMER&MALTA’s original, modest plan to produce six designs on Akari principles developed into a massively complex international collaboration with six designers, and artisans in more than 20 different disciplines. Overcoming many technical hurdles, they pushed linen, metal, resin, Plexiglas, concrete, and paper in new directions and produced 26 light fixtures—which now join the radiant, ever-expanding legacy of Noguchi’s Akari. –Dakin Hart, Senior Curator, The Noguchi Museum


About YMER&MALTA

Founded by Valérie Maltaverne in 2009, YMER&MALTA occupies the crossroads of design, art, and craft, creating timeless contemporary pieces by marrying traditional materials and techniques with new technologies. Thematic collections have been developed around glass, wood marquetry, marble, leather, resin, and tapestry. YMER&MALTA pieces are in major collections, including that of the prestigious Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Centre Pompidou, both in Paris. The studio is currently finalizing a collection for the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie D’Aubusson (a center for traditional Aubusson tapestry that includes a museum) composed of eight works that drew on the 600-year-old tapestry tradition of Aubuson. Learn more at ymeretmalta.com.


About the Designers

British industrial designer Sebastian Bergne is known for transforming everyday objects into extraordinary pieces through his thoughtful approach to design. Since founding his studio in 1990, he has designed and supplied bespoke objects for restaurants, retailers, and individuals, while also creating editioned works of his own. He has received numerous international design awards, including Red Dot, Design Plus, and International Forum product design awards, and his work is in museum collections including those of The Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Design Museum in London.

For over a decade, American industrial designer Stephen Burks has dedicated his work to uniting authentic craft traditions, industrial manufacturing, and contemporary design. His New York-based studio has produced products, furniture, lighting, and exhibitions for a range of international clients, including B&B Italia, Harry Winston, Missoni, Roche Bobois, and Swarovski. He has exhibited worldwide, including at the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Arts and Design, both in New York, and has worked as a product development consultant with nonprofits ranging from Aid to Artisans, to the Clinton Global Initiative and the Nature Conservancy. Burks is the 2015 National Design Award winner in product design.

Originally from Bayeaux, France, Océane Delain lives and works in Paris as a designer principally for TechShop, a firm specializing in digital fabrication. Since 2010, she has designed products for numerous companies, including Ikea, Air Serenity, Roche Bobois, and Who’s Next. She graduated from École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle, where she studied how people co-exist and interact with objects. This focus led to the initial concept for the Mellow sofa, now produced by Bernhardt. This and other of her designs have received awards and recognition in design competitions and fairs, and have been published in newspapers including The New York Times, Le Monde, and The Telegraph.

Benjamin Graindorge is a graduate of École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle. He has exhibited at the Design Parade Festival, where he received the Cinna and Audi Talents Awards, and has completed a residency at the Villa Kujoyama, in Kyoto. He has worked with companies such as Ligne Roset, Artuce, and the publishing house Moustache.

Founded in 2002, design firm nendo is based in Tokyo and Milan. Founded by designer Oki Sato, nendo has worked on projects including lighting and product designs for Flos, Louis Vuitton, Sèvres, TAG Heuer, Cappellini, Kartell, Tod’s; interior designs for Issey Miyake, Puma, and KENZO Parfums; and installations at Milan Design Week, the Sogetsu Foundation, and Maison & Objet.

Sylvain Rieu-Piquet is a French artist, designer, and art historian. A master of traditional techniques, Rieu-Piquet does not hesitate to experiment with new technologies in order to grasp an idea or inspiration, and to translate it into something new without distorting its original force. A graduate of École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle and É cole Normale Supérieure de Cachan, he was invited by YMER&MALTA to take part in the exhibitions A Fleur de Peau (2012), dedicated to leather, and Feu de Tout Bois (2014), dedicated to marquetry.


Major support for Akari Unfolded: A Collection by YMER&MALTA is provided by Van Cleef & Arpels and FACE (French American Cultural Exchange) Foundation through Oui Design, a program initiated by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the US and FACE, supported by Institut Français-Paris, the French Ministry of Culture, the Florence Gould Foundation, and Van Cleef & Arpels. Additional funding has been provided by Fondation Chanel. 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 Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

YMER&MALTA Exhibition Sponsor Logos

Changing and Unchanging Things: Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan
Saturday, January 12, 2019 - Sunday, March 24, 2019

Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan

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., 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.

Read more at yokohama.art.museum.


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 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.

Logos for exhibition sponsors

Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein
Wednesday, November 7, 2018 - Sunday, March 3, 2019

Berkeley Art Museum, University of California

In the early twentieth century, inspired by modern science such as Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, an emerging avant-garde movement sought to expand the “dimensionality” of modern art, engaging with theoretical concepts of time and space to advance bold new forms of creative expression. Dimensionism: Modern Art in the Age of Einstein illuminates the remarkable connections between the scientific and artistic revolutions that shaped some of the most significant works of the time, from Alexander Calder’s kinetic sculptures to Marcel Duchamp’s early experiments with Conceptual art. Others were inspired by emerging research into interstellar and microscopic spaces, while expanding knowledge of quantum mechanics transformed many artists’ views of the world, leading to new approaches to understanding the nature of everyday reality.

Read more at bampfa.org.

Isamu Noguchi, Yellow Landscape, 1943 (partially reconstructed, 1995). Magnesite, wood, string, metal. Photo: Kevin Noble. ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, NY / ARS.