Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi (1904-1988) influenced a generation of sculptors and designers with his stark, modernist sculptures, gardens, furniture, and set designs. Born in Los Angeles, Noguchi traveled the world with his family, eventually moving to India when he was thirteen. While studying pre-medicine at Columbia, he attended evening sculpture classes and soon left the university to pursue a career in the arts. He received a Guggenheim fellowship and moved to Paris to study under the artist Constantin Brancusi, who inspired him to take a decidedly modernist approach to sculpture. Noguchi achieved his first of many public commissions to construct a large-scale sculpture at Rockefeller Center in New York City. His success allowed him the freedom to establish a studio in Greenwich Village in 1942. Four years later, influenced by his experience protesting the internment of Japanese-Americans, Noguchi created slab sculptures for “Fourteen Americans” at the Museum of Modern Art. While he mainly focused on public sculpture, Noguchi offered innovative industrial products, including an intercom for Zenith (1937), a glass-top table for Herman Miller (1947), and lighting pieces for Akari Light Sculptures (1951). For the remainder of his life, he designed a multitude of public commissions that range between playgrounds, fountains, gardens, sculptures, and his own Noguchi Museum in New York. In addition to a major retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York in 1968, Noguchi was awarded the Kyoto Prize in Arts in 1986 and the National Medal of Arts in 1987.
“Isamu Noguchi Biography.” The Noguchi Museum. Noguchi.org, 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2011.