Past Exhibitions


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

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Artists at Noguchi: Maria Blaisse's Breathing Sphere
Wednesday, December 3, 2014 - Sunday, January 4, 2015

For a month this winter, The Noguchi Museum presents Maria Blaisse's Arduino (Breathing Sphere), a computer-controlled, motorized sphere of woven bamboo. The installation creates a spatial and formal dialogue both with Noguchi’s work and with two more of Blaisse’s woven bamboo structures, which are being presented by slowLab at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery.

In the words of Oek de Jong, taken from Maria Blaisse’s monograph Emergence of Form, she “is one of the designers making an important contribution to the metamorphosis of human existence.” Blaisse’s idealism is pragmatic, rigorous and well-earned. While in the past decade she has set herself to exploring natural structural alternatives for almost anything manmade, she has also designed hats used by Issey Miyake, EVA foam costumes employed by Paula Abdul, and boots for Camper.

Blaisse tends to explore with the directness of nature: water running downhill through soft material, seeking the physically obvious answers to the questions that emerge from her material research. But she is also sympathetic to the instincts that lead us to apply our ingenuity to synthesizing, counterfeiting and opposing nature. Her resolutions of this paradox make her uniquely qualified to help lead us not to anything so twee as a post-industrial utopia, but into a more pragmatic and mutually beneficial relationship with our planet. Her latest large body of work exploring the structural potential of woven bamboo is a prime example; she is presently engaged in expanding one of her bamboo structures to the scale of architecture. 

Maria Blaisse comes to New York as part of slowLab’s 2014 Slow knowledge programming. Her bamboo structures are being presented and performed at The Noguchi Museum in partnership with slowLab, with support from the Pratt Institute and the Creative Industries Fund NL.

Related programs:
Performance and Conversation with Maria Blaisse
December 6, 1:00pm
Dancers Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, Sara Jimenez, and Cynthia Stanley will put three of Blaisse's bamboo Moving Meshes through their paces. This will be followed by a Q&A with the artist on the topic 'Slow Ecology,' moderated by slowLab.

Open Studio: Finding Form with Maria Blaisse
December 7, 11:00am to 1:00pm

Images (from top to bottom):

Arduino (Breathing Sphere), installed at The Noguchi Museum.

Dance improvisation with bamboo sphere, 2007. The Noguchi Museum will present a computer-controlled, motorized sphere. To see a human-powered sphere, see our public program event, Performance and Conversation with Maria Blaisse.

Noguchi's Early Drawings: 1927-1932
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 - Sunday, May 25, 2014

Reflecting in 1973 on his formative years as an artist, Noguchi remarked "I seem to have lost my facility but I was facile at drawing. I could do anything. It was easy for me." Noguchi's Early Drawings bears out this confidence. Each of the drawings on view reveals a very different facet of his quest to form a unique artistic identity in the years following his apprenticeship with Brancusi. His search for style is brought into sharp focus by being restricted to the subject he returned to most often: the female nude. The selection of drawings on view covers exercises from the life drawing classes he took at Academie Collarosi and L'Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris in 1927, as well as his distillations of signature strains of Modernism he encountered in Paris and New York, including traces of artists as diverse as Picasso, Tsuguharu Foujita, Elie Nadelman, Matisse, Egon Schiele, and Arstide Maillol. 

Throughout this period, Noguchi relied on drawing to keep his eye sharp for the portrait bust commissions by which he made a living, even as he used it as a tool for learning about abstraction. Like the busts, these drawings show his preternatural adaptability to sitter and circumstance. The ability to effortlessley mimic the styles of established artists has cut short as many careers as lack of talent. Facile technique does not at artist make. In these amazing drawings, so diverse and assured they could be the work of fourteen different artists, we see Noguchi at the critical moment when he could have gone either way. 



Image: Paris Abstraction, 1928 

Noguchi- Pratt Fashion: What Inspires
Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - Sunday, February 23, 2014

In the fall of 2013, juniors in the Fashion Department at Pratt were introduced to Isamu Noguchi's collaborations with the avant-garde dancer/choreographer Ruth Page, for whom he created two royal blue, wool jersey sack dresses in 1932 to pose and dance in: wearable artworks that transformed her into a piece of kinetic sculpture. Still in the process of learning how to turn their interests into invention, the students then spent time at The Noguchi Museum in search of inspiration. Each student developed a garment in response to something they found. Eleven were selected in a competitive process at the end of the semester and refined over the winter break.

The winning ensembles, by students: Kiet Tran, Helena Eisenhart, Sophie Andes Gascon, Claire McKinney, Shaelyn Zhu, Chantall Galipeau, Nathanial Boon Kit Woo, Giovanna Flores, Katya Reily, Landry Low, and Nicole Maleski, will be on view at The Noguchi Museum between January 22 and February 23. 

Opening reception for the designers, their friends, and family, and the public: January 23, 6:00 to 8:00pm in the Museum's Education Room (accessible from the Garden.)

Image: Katya Reily, Ensemble, 2013

Highlights from the Collection: Reworked
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 - Sunday, February 9, 2014

This summer's installation of highlights from the collection is organized around four instances in which Noguchi returned to an earlier body of work to rethink, redevelop, reproduce or restore it. The first example includes two groups of objects Noguchi made inspired by Constantin Brancusi in the 1930s, following his apprenticeship in Brancusi's studio, when he was still very much under the Romanian's influence and two decades later, in homage to his mentor, following Brancusi's death in 1957. 

The second concerns Noguchi's interlocking sculptures of the 1940s, the majority of which were made in stone. "Remembrance," the original presented here, is a rare example in wood. In the 1970s and 1980s, spurred by demand for these by then widely recognized masterpieces, and concerned about their long-term survival (given their fragility), Noguchi remade a number of them in bronze and aluminum. 

Between Brancusi's Paris studio, where Noguchi first learned to square off a block of stone in 1927, and the marble "laboratories" around Querceta, Italy where, in addition to direct carving, he explored the artistic potential of raw marble blocks fresh from the quarry and the 8' diameter circular saw used to portion them, the nature of Noguchi's work with stone changed significantly. The third group of objects on view includes works from the late 1960s and 1980s in marble that feature a graphic use of the chisel, and whether finished or not, will call to mind Michelangelo's non-finito (unfinished) technique. 

The final grouping comes from several of Noguchi's set designs for Martha Graham. Generally, the Museum shies away from isolating individual set elements from the productions for which they were developed. The point of including them here is to emphasize what it means to make sculpture for use (one of Noguchi's favorite subjects), and not just any use but the incredible abuse delivered by dancers in performance. As a result of the constant need to repair and replace them, most of these set elements exist in several different forms: originals, performance copies, and exhibitions copies-made by the artist and his fabricators, as well as Martha Graham Dance Company. 

Image: Noodle, 1943-1944

Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - Sunday, January 26, 2014

While en route to Japan for his first time since childhood, Isamu Noguchi paid an unexpected visit to Beijing (then called Peking) from July 1930 to January 1931. A fateful encounter with a Japanese businessman and art collector, Sotokichi Katsuizumi (1889-1985), exposed the young artist to Katsuizumi's small collection of scrolls by the poet, seal carver, and traditional ink painting master Qi Biashi (1864-1957). Noguchi was entranced by what he saw, and asked to be introduced to Qi Baishi whom he observed and studied with. 

Organized by the University of Michigan Museum of Art in a collaboration between The Noguchi Museum, Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baish: Beijing 1930 explores this pivotal but lesser-documented moment of Noguchi's career, which resulted in some 100 ink scroll paintings. This exhibition marks the first pairing of Noguchi's scrolls with those by Qi Baishi, which have been selected from the same period, alongside the seal that Qi made for his young pupil. Prior to meeting Qi Baishi, Noguchi's sculptural work effectively jumped between figuration and abstraction. This exhibition suggests the lasting significance of his study of traditional ink brush technique with Qi Baishi was less a point of departure than a stimulus for his reconciliation of the two in his later outlook on sculpture.

Image: Isamu Noguchi, Peking Drawing (Man sitting), 1930 and Qi Baishi, Crabs, c. 1930

Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930 is organized by the University of Michigan Museum of Art in collaboration with The Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, New York.

Lead support for this exhibition is provided by the Terra Foundation for American Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, the W.L.S. Spencer Foundation, and the Freeman Foundation. Additional support is provided, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, the University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies and Confucius Institute, and the Blakemore Foundation.                                                                        


Space, Choreographed: Noguchi and Ruth Page
Wednesday, September 25, 2013 - Sunday, January 26, 2014

Space, Choreographed: Noguchi and Ruth Page was developed in a collaboration between The Noguchi Museum and The Ruth Page Foundation, building on a group of drawings Noguchi made of the great American avant-garde dancer and choreographer Ruth Page posing in a sack dress he designed in 1933 to transform her into a dynamic embodiment of his sculpture Miss Expanding Universe (1932).

That piece had emerged from Noguchi's extensive efforts to find a distinctive way to abstract the human figure- efforts greatly enhanced by his contact with modern dance, and Page's form in particular- his study of ink wash painting with the Chinese painter Qi Baishi, and his best friend, the eccentric futurist genius Buckminster Fuller, a sort of Three Musketeers of American ability and aspiration, had been captivated by a series of lectures popularizing Edwin Hubble's recent discovery that the universe was neither static nor tidily Copernican. It is hard to conceive a better visual metaphor for Hubble's new picture of the universe, a pulsating amoeba of out-rushing matter, than Page in Noguchi's sack dress.

The exhibition explores Noguchi and Page's personal relationship and their two professional collaborations: the constellation of objects and performances that includes Miss Expanding Universe, the dress and the dances it inspired and Page's post- World War II dance The Bells, based on Edgar Allen Poe's poem of the same name, for which Noguchi designed costumes and a set. The exhibition has been scheduled to coincide with Isamu Noguchi and Qi Baishi: Beijing 1930, also on view at the Museum this fall. 


Image: Ruth Page in Isamu Noguchi's Sack Dress 1934, Attributed to Andre Delfau, c. 1970's

Space, Choreographed: Noguchi and Ruth Page is made possible by The Ruth Page Foundation, Thea K. Flaum and Robert A. Hill, Salme Harju and Michael S. Steinberg, and The Davis and Lynn Kravis Family Foundation.