Past Exhibitions


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

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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


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

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.


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.


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

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Jorge Palacios at The Noguchi Museum
Wednesday, September 26, 2018 - Sunday, January 20, 2019

Nine sculptures by Jorge Palacios (b. 1979, Spain) explore the laws of physics and motion on microscopic and macroscopic levels. Integrated into the Museum’s permanent installation, Palacios’s works bring renewed attention to Noguchi’s frequent experiments with the physical sciences, as well as with turning art-viewing into a physical experience.

Complementing the exhibition, Palacios’s monumental accoya wood sculpture Link (2018) will be installed at Flatiron Plaza North in Manhattan, August 16–November 6, 2018. Read more

Exhibition Catalogue

The exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue featuring full color installation photography by Miguel de Guzmán, an essay by exhibition curator Dakin Hart, and a conversation between the artist and architect Ana Maria Torres. Available in the Museum Shop.

About Jorge Palacios

Jorge Palacios’s sculptures have been widely shown in public spaces, includ­ing in SoHo, New York City, where he exhibited Sketch in the Air (2015); in front of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid; in the “Torres de Colón,” in Madrid, and, as part of an exhibition of his urban sculptures in the streets of Toledo, at that city’s Floridablanca Sculpture Gardens, Sun Gate, Bisagra Gate, and Santa Cruz Art Museum. His work has also been exhibited in numerous museums, including the Santa Cruz Art Museum, Museum of Fine Arts of Guadalajara, and the Mirador Hall of the Thyssen-Bornemisza, in Madrid, and it may be found in public and private collections in Canada, Switzerland, Spain, and the United States. Palacios divides his time between his studio in New York City and his workshop in Spain.

From top: Jorge Palacios, Balance and Inertia, 2011. Teak, corten steel. The Singularity of the Curve, 2017. Bamboo. Photos ©Jorge Palacios. Homepage: Okiagari-Koboshi, 2018. Accoya. Photograph by Elizabeth Felicella. Flowing Drop, 2017. Ebony. Blood Cell, 2014. Maple, slate. Photograph by ImagenSubliminal (Miguel de Guzmán + Rocío Romero). ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, NY / ARS and Jorge Palacios.

Jorge Palacios at The Noguchi Museum is supported by Porcelanosa and the Consulate General of Spain in New York. The exhibition is also supported, in part, by 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. The installation of the sculpture Link is made possible thanks to the collaboration of the New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program and the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership. Special thanks to Vivanco and Fermín for their contributions to the opening reception.

Isamu Noguchi: Inside and Out
Saturday, April 14, 2018 - Sunday, January 6, 2019

SFO Museum, San Francisco International Airport

Located in the pre-security screening area in the international terminal, this exhibition’s two installations represent interior and exterior landscapes. The objects are drawn from Noguchi's last two forays in sheet metal kirigami, combined with his Akari lanterns. The galvanized steel pieces in the exterior environment, made from the same material as guardrails and lampposts, were conceived as a series of editions to answer the great demand for outdoor sculpture by him with works that are, like Akari, relatively lightweight, inexpensive, playful, and unpretentious. In the interior environment, Akari lanterns join a related body of work in cut-and-folded bronze plate designed to winkingly play off of the perceived preciousness and self-seriousness of bronze sculpture.
—Dakin Hart, Senior Curator, The Noguchi Museum


Image, from left: Isamu Noguchi, Jack in the Box, 1984. Bronze plate. Akari UF4-L10 (1986) and UF4-L8 (c. 1985). Washi paper, bamboo, metal. Collection of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, NY. Photo courtesy of SFO Museum.

Beyond the Pedestal: Isamu Noguchi and the Borders of Sculpture
Friday, October 5, 2018 - Sunday, January 6, 2019

Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Maine

Beyond the Pedestal: Isamu Noguchi and the Borders of Sculpture investigates Noguchi’s expansive artistic practice by exploring his efforts to enlarge and challenge conventional notions of sculptural boundaries. Born in 1904, the Japanese-American modernist experimented endlessly with the intersection of objects, people, and space over the course of his 60-year career. Melding ideas and approaches to art from across the globe, Noguchi created traditional sculpture, landscape architecture, play structures, monuments, stage sets, interior designs, furniture, and more. This exhibition brings aspects of his varied production together, complicating notions of form and function and using the juxtaposition of materials, shapes, and techniques to encourage audiences to reimagine their sense of what sculpture can be.


Image: Isamu Noguchi, Black and Blue (Interior Landscape), 1958–59 (fabricated 1979–80). Aluminum, electrostatic paint, and polyurathane paint. ©The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York / ARS.