Isamu Noguchi Sculptures at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University
Contact: Hilarie Faberman, Robert M. and Ruth L. Halperin Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, 650-725-3499; or Jill Osaka, Public Relations Manager, 650-725-4657
STANFORD, CA SEPTEMBER 1999 - Thanks to an important three-year loan from The Isamu Noguchi Foundation in Long Island City, New York, the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts will feature five outdoor sculptures by the artist beginning in late September, 1999. The sculptures, which date from the 1960s through the 1980s, typify the diverse media and techniques employed by Noguchi during his career. The works will be installed in the 4,000 square-foot courtyard between the original museum building and the Cantor Arts Center's new wing. The loan is made possible by a grant from the Museum Loan Network with additional support provided by the Cowles Charitable Trust.
Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) was one of the most original artists of the 20th century, and a sculptor whose works defy categorization. Born in Los Angeles to a Japanese father and American mother, he was schooled as a youth in Japan and Indiana. In the mid 1920s he enrolled at the Leonardo da Vinci Art School on New York's Lower East Side, where he studied with Onorio Ruotolo, who was known as the "Rodin of Little Italy." While on a Guggenheim Fellowship in Paris in 1926, Noguchi met the Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, with whom he worked as a studio assistant. On his trips to the Far East in the 1930s, Noguchi studied traditional arts and crafts such as a calligraphy, garden design, and pottery. During the course of his career of over sixty years, Noguchi was a citizen of the world, enjoying success as a sculptor, landscape architect, and theater designer.
Because of his background, Noguchi was adept at harmonizing opposites—East and West, old and new, traditional and modern, geometric and organic, figuration and abstraction. The sculptures on loan from The Isamu Noguchi Foundation illustrate the variety of the artist's approach and the simplicity and complexity of his work. The loan includes This Earth, This Passage, 1962, a bronze sculpture that first germinated in Noguchi's mind when he studied Japanese pottery in the early 1930s. It was made originally from clay that the artist worked with his feet, and is characteristic of his sculptures that "emerge" from the ground. In Silence Walking, 1970, in gray Bardiglio marble, is one of his earliest articulations of the "void" and emptiness, a subject Noguchi would explore frequently. An entirely different type of sculpture is the biomorphic Little Id, 1971, a whimsical marble whose shape alludes to male anatomy. It was fabricated by post-and-tension construction, a system in which the marble elements are threaded along a rod and tightened. The continuous tension on the rod gives the sculpture its strength. The polished stainless surface of Sentinel, 1973, glistens as the sculpture suggests an alert watcher, portal, and the form of a lock. Finally, the bronze work Rain Mountain, 1982-84, features the interlocking vertical and horizontal elements that Noguchi introduced into the sculptors' vocabulary.
It is appropriate that these works are on display in the Center's courtyard with its natural plantings, as Noguchi was particularly sensitive to the relationship of art and the natural environment. Moreover, the works reinforce the Center's aims to bring together works of various regions and periods—East and West, traditional and modern. Few sculptors have so brilliantly embodied cultural and aesthetic diversity as did Isamu Noguchi.
To complement the installation the Center will feature a half-day symposium, Isamu Noguchi: Contrast and Harmony, on Saturday, November 13 beginning at 9 am. The speakers will include Bruce Altshuler, formerly curator of collections at The Isamu Noguchi Foundation, Inc., and now director of studies at Christie's Education, New York; Lucio Ruotolo, professor emeritus of English at Stanford University; and E. Marc Treib, professor of architecture at UC Berkeley. Other related educational programs will take place at Stanford during the duration of the loan. A related exhibition, The Public and Private Worlds of Isamu Noguchi, will be on view in the library at UCSF at 530 Parnassus Street, San Francisco, beginning November 1, 1999. It is comprised of Noguchi's models for completed public art projects as well as a selection of his sculptures.
In addition, Doris and Donald Fisher are lending the Center an early, surrealistic sculpture in bronze by Isamu Noguchi, Cronos, 1947. With its rocklike and sickle-shaped forms, it recalls works by artists such as the surrealist Yves Tanguy, while also suggesting traditional representations of Father Time. It will be displayed adjacent to the outdoor courtyard in the Center's Meier Family Galleria.
The Museum Loan Network—the first comprehensive national-collection sharing program—stimulates, facilitates, and funds long-term loans of art among U.S. institutions to enhance museum's "permanent" installations. The MLN's program consists of two complementary components: the MLN Directory, an illustrated on-line database that includes objects available for long-term loan by museums around the country, and the MLN grant program, which help realize loans between institutions. Launched in 1995, the MLN is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts, which conceived and initiated the program, and is administered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Office of the Arts.